Tuesday 7 January 2014

Half Of Sex Attackers Avoid Prison

Half of convicted sex attackers, violent criminals and burglars are avoiding prison despite government pledges to end “soft” sentences, official figures have revealed.
More than 65,000 serious criminals walked free despite being convicted of a range of offences including rape, sexual assault, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and robbery.
Just 53 per cent of convicted paedophiles who abused children under the age of 13 were jailed in 2012, while half of drug dealers also escaped jail. Overall, just one in four criminals were sent to prison when lesser sentences were taken into account.
The figures are likely to embarrass the Conservatives. Chris Grayling, the justice secretary who has positioned himself as a Tory traditionalist on law and order in contrast to Ken Clarke, his more liberal predecessor.
One senior Tory backbencher said the figures demonstrate that there is a "malaise" at the heart of the criminal justice system, while Labour described the number of offenders avoiding prison is an "insult" to victims of crime.
Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary who obtained the statistics in a parliamentary answer, said that government cuts are undermining the justice system.
He said: "Some of these crimes are so serious and violent that members of the public rightly expect them to lead to a prison sentence.
"One of the concerns is that this is being done in order to save money. Justice done on the cheap like this risks prisoners reoffending rather than being reformed which means more victims and misery.
“This will be an insult to many victims of crime who want to see those who committed crimes against them properly punished and rehabilitated."

Mr Grayling, the justice secretary, said that the government is overhauling guidelines to ensure criminals receive tougher sentences in future.
He said: "Since 2010 those who break the law are more likely to go to prison for longer and we are continuing to overhaul sentencing to ensure that the toughest sentencing measures are available to the courts.
"I'll take no lessons from a Labour party that let thousands of criminals out of prison early because they hadn't provided enough places, who let thousands of offenders off with a slap on the wrist caution instead of proper punishment, and who failed to get any money from prisoners' earnings for their victims.
"Under Labour's watch, reoffending rates simply remained the same, and they had no idea what they were going to do about it. Our reforms will help criminals [move] away from a life of crime – and help them stay away from it."
According to the figures, a total of 49 per cent of people convicted for sexual assault, equivalent to 2,324 offenders, did not receive a custodial sentence. Only 262 of those convicted were given jail terms lasting more than four years.
More than 300 paedophiles who abused children under the age of 16 were not given an immediate custodial sentence, while 107 offenders who abused children aged 13 or under – equivalent to almost half – avoided prison.
A total of 11,000 burglars, equivalent to 49 per cent of offenders, did not receive immediate custodial sentences while 5,000 people convicted of robbery, equivalent to 40 per cent, also escaped jail.
Just one in eight offenders convicted of common assault were jailed, while less than a quarter of those convicted of cruelty or neglect to children were imprisoned.
Douglas Carswell, a Tory MP, said: “There is a malaise at the heart of the criminal justice system. The Public prosecutors are ineffective and bureaucratic, the judiciary are unaccountable and the offender managers seem to work more in the interest of offenders than victims.
“The system seems to be run by a clique of officials who are not working in the interest of justice. It is a dangerous situation. Ordinary, law abiding people are beginning to doubt whether it can administer justice effectively."
In November last year Lord Neuberger, the president of the Supreme Court, said that short jail sentences are ineffective because they are “disruptive” to criminals’ jobs and family life.
However David Green, the director of Civitas, a right-leaning think tank, said: "It is a failure by the system to protect the public adequately. People who are serious and very often persistent offenders are simply not in custody when they should be.
"The government is anxious to say it is tough on crime, but these figures suggest it is not. They don't feel the need to punish adequately people who have committed serious crimes."
The latest figures disclose that more than 144,000 convicted offenders will be entitled to vote in elections because they have not been jailed.
The figures also disclose that more than 10,000 offenders were given sentences of less than six months. They include 13 paedophiles, 125 sex offenders, 7,000 violent criminals and 3,000 burglars.
Last year, a parliamentary committee recommended that prisoners serving sentences of less than six months should be given the vote.
Mr Grayling has pledged to ban automatic early release from prison for serious criminals such as child rapists, terrorists and hardened criminals.
He has also pledged to drive through a “rehabilitation revolution” under which community sentences will include compulsory punishments forcing offenders to pay fines, clear litter or keep to a curfew.
Criminals who avoid jail face being tracked by satellite 24 hours a day and banned from some areas or activities such as drinking alcohol. For the first time, magistrates will be able to consider criminals’ possessions, such as cars and homes, when deciding on a fine.

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