Number of criminals being sentenced drops to lowest level in a decade

Number of criminals being sentenced by the courts drops to its lowest level in a decade – with just 6% sent straight to jail

  • Number of criminals sentenced by courts has dropped to lowest level in decade
  • Of offenders sentenced, 78% were fined, 8% were given a community sentence 
  • Meanwhile recorded crime rose,  while number of offences charged decreased

The number of criminals being sentenced by the courts has dropped to the lowest level in a decade with just 6% sent straight to jail, official figures show.

There were 1.59 million people prosecuted, cautioned or handed penalty notices, drugs warnings or community resolutions in the last year. Of these, 1.37 million were prosecutions.

In the year to September, 1,187,372 offenders were sentenced at all courts, Ministry of Justice data showed.

This was a fall of 1% from the previous year (1,196,232) and was the lowest number in a decade – 1,398,752 were sentenced during the same period in 2009.

The number of criminals being sentenced by the courts has dropped to the lowest level in a decade with just 6% sent straight to jail, official figures show (Stock image) 

Of all the offenders sentenced, 78% were fined, 8% were given a community sentence, 6% were sent to jail immediately, 3% were handed a suspended sentence and another 3% were given conditional discharges.

Meanwhile police-recorded crime continued to rise and the number of offences charged by forces decreased, the report said.

It also suggested fewer violent and sexual offenders were jailed.

Justice officials say decisions on sentencing are a matter for the courts.

Prosecution levels appear to be stabilising after steadily falling since 2010. They dropped by less than 1% overall in the last year from 1.38 million, the data showed.

But the proportion of offenders handed an immediate custodial sentence fell from 80,216 to 75,771 – the lowest number in a 10-year period after 100,350 criminals were sent straight to jail in 2009.

There were reductions in the custody rate – the number of offenders sent to custody as a proportion of all sentenced – for those convicted of violent crimes and sexual offences, the report said.

The number of defendants sentenced for possession of a weapon rose by 8%, and numbers sent to jail rose by 11% to 37%.

The average length of a custodial sentence – 18 months – is the highest in a decade and an increase of seven months since the previous year.

The number of defendants given an immediate custodial sentence shorter than six months was 36,600 – 10% fewer than in the year ending September 2018. This number has steadily dropped since 2014.

There were 17,000 criminals sentenced to more than two years behind bars.

A Government spokesman said: ‘This Government is cracking down on crime and restoring public confidence in the justice system – recruiting more police, building extra prison places and making sure violent and sexual offenders spend longer behind bars.

‘But we are not stopping there. Victims deserve to know their cases will be pursued rigorously through the courts, and we are investing a further £85 million in the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure it can deal with the cases brought by the police.’

 

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