‘Suspended sentences are on the rise, even for serious offences’

‘Suspended sentences are on the rise, even for serious offences’

‘Suspended sentences are on the rise, even for serious offences’

Updated in News

THOUSANDS more criminals are having their prison sentences suspended despite having previous convictions or cautions, a new report has claimed.

In North Yorkshire, 56 offenders received suspended prison sentences in 2002, one in every 512. This figure increased to 454 in 2012, or one in 31.

The figures were released by the Centre for Crime Prevention - a campaign group which supports higher numbers of police officers on the beat and tougher prison sentences for serious and repeat offenders.

The think-tank also claimed there were 8,444 cases of serious offenders receiving suspended sentences in 2012/13 despite having 15 or more previous convictions or cautions.

It also claims the number of suspended prison sentences issued in North Yorkshire in 2012/13 is 17 times higher than in 2002 - up from three per cent to 31 per cent, roughly in line with the national average.

In Humberside, figures rose from 59 in 2002 (one in 411), to 934 in 2012 (one in 26), an increase from three per cent to 33 per cent.

The nature of suspended sentences changed in 2005, when Parliament introduced suspended sentences with requirements, meaning defendants could be spared jail but could still be given a punishment, typically unpaid work, a curfew or probation, and they must stay out of trouble for longer.

But Peter Cuthbertson, director of the CCP, called the figures "an explosion in numbers" and "a failure of public protection".

He said: "This means tens of thousands of killers, thugs, sex offenders and fraudsters avoiding prison and reoffending hundreds of thousands of times.

"As they explode in numbers, suspended sentences are failing to control crime and to protect the public. Once a curious anomaly in the criminal justice system, the injustice and misery they cause is growing to alarming levels. Suspended sentences should be abolished."

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: "Since 2010 criminals are more likely to go to prison – and for longer.

"In the 12 months to June 2013 almost 48,000 offenders didn't 'walk free' but went straight to prison - four times as many as got a suspended sentence.

"It is right that the most serious offenders spend longer behind bars, which is why we are overhauling sentencing and making sure judges have tough sentencing options available to them.

"But sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the independent judiciary based on the full facts of each case.”

North Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service were approached by The Press but declined to comment.

Comments (1)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:28pm Mon 12 May 14

3.8liter says...

The prisons are full and it's costing too much. So the magistrates and the judges are constantly having their guidelines altered so that fewer offenders are being sent down. It's not necessarily their fault, but the fault of government accountants who are calling the shots. Also there seems to be a growing army of do-gooders who think that everyone is able to be rehabilitated, to the extent that if a regular offender stays out of trouble, (or manages not to get caught), for a few months it's deemed a huge success.
Suspended sentences are hardly any better than conditional discharges because the person concerned is not behind bars where he/she deserves to be. Fines cannot be imposed because the criminals never have any money, and they also always seem to have an excuse as to why they can't do unpaid work.
The prisons are full and it's costing too much. So the magistrates and the judges are constantly having their guidelines altered so that fewer offenders are being sent down. It's not necessarily their fault, but the fault of government accountants who are calling the shots. Also there seems to be a growing army of do-gooders who think that everyone is able to be rehabilitated, to the extent that if a regular offender stays out of trouble, (or manages not to get caught), for a few months it's deemed a huge success. Suspended sentences are hardly any better than conditional discharges because the person concerned is not behind bars where he/she deserves to be. Fines cannot be imposed because the criminals never have any money, and they also always seem to have an excuse as to why they can't do unpaid work. 3.8liter
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree