Reoffending rates show "revolving door" community sentences not working, critics say

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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

THE use of “revolving door” community sentences has been branded a failure after new figures placed the region at the top of the reoffending league table.

According to campaign group Centre for Crime Prevention, 4,842 adults in the North-East and North Yorkshire committed 17,734 offences in 2011/12 within a year of receiving a community or suspended sentence.

The Northern Echo:

Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust had the worst adult reoffending rate in England and Wales with 44.1 per cent of criminals committing further offences within 12 months.

It was closely followed by Northumbria Probation Trust which had a reoffending rate of 43.2 per cent.

York and North Yorkshire - 37.8 per cent - was two places behind Northumbria.

Peter Cuthbertson, author of the report and director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “These figures prove that letting thousands of criminals off with one community sentence after another is failing miserably at protecting the public.

“Some of the worst figures are for the North-East and Yorkshire, suggesting this is where greater use of prison for serious offenders would be most effective."

Political campaigner Mr Cuthbertson, who is originally from Darlington, added: “Community sentences fail to protect the public and fail to stop reoffending. Prison works.”

Nick Hall, chief executive of Northumbria Probation Trust, said the trust was making progress and reoffending was lower than predicted.

He added: “In the North-East, we are working with some of the most difficult socio economic factors and with some of the hardest to reach offenders.

“As such, many of the individuals we work with need a great deal of support and intervention to help them stop reoffending.”

The Centre for Crime Prevention report was compiled using data obtained using freedom of information powers.

Nationally, it revealed that almost 8,000 criminals sent to prison in 2011/12 had previously been given 11 or more community sentences - and 407 were given 21 or more. Justice Minister Jeremy Wright admitted that reoffending rates were unacceptably high.

“Prison does work. But we are toughening up community sentences so every sentence contains a genuine punishment, including fines, unpaid work and strict curfews and exclusion zones – which can be enforced with state-of-the-art GPS tracking," he added.

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