Community based sentences being flouted

On the day that the Prison Reform Trust ramped up its efforts to have offenders given the entitlement to vote in elections, a freedom of information request has shown the Trust’s faith in more community based sentencing rather than custodial sentencing looks badly misplaced.

The website Regeneration & Renewal submitted their FOI request to enquire about the number of breaches of community orders recorded in England and Wales.  The figures show that the number of breaches rose by 47% between 2006-08 from 46,589 in 2006 to 68,343 in 2008.  To put this figure into context the number of community orders handed out rose only slightly over the same period, from 119,109 in 2006 to 127,700 in 2008.

It is no surprise that the public remains concerned that offenders are not being suitably punished for the offences they commit.  The odds seem stacked against law abiding victims of crime when numerous campaign groups rally around to support offenders and even online resources are on hand that can help those offenders who are pulled in for breaching community orders to prepare for their court hearing.  At least someone who sees the effect of so called low-level crime seems to have retained a sense of perspective:

Bill Pitt, director of ASB Action, which advises service providers such as housing associations and community safety teams on antisocial behaviour, said the figures painted a “horrific” picture that called into question the effectiveness of community-based punishments. “Breaches of community orders are awful: they bring the criminal justice system into disrepute and leave communities feeling fragile,” he said.

They also dramatically undermine the arguments of those groups who seek to keep as many offenders out of prison as possible, or make prison as comfortable as they can for those whose offences are just too bad for them to be allowed to retain their liberty.  The criminal justice system has become a farce where tough talk is not backed up with appropriate action.  When it comes to community orders, too many of the people given them treat the punishment with contempt because the consequences for doing so are trivial.

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3 Responses to “Community based sentences being flouted”

  1. 1 WitteringsfromWitney 09/02/2010 at 9:47 am

    As you rightly point out AM, the whole bloody system is a shambles. Unfortunately the idea that if you break society’s rules you no longer have the right to the benefits of that society seems to have been thrown out of the window by the crap about ‘rights’ and ‘rehabilitation’.

  2. 2 JohnRS 10/02/2010 at 12:30 pm

    I dont see any signs of change from any of three main parties.

  3. 3 08/02/2012 at 7:06 pm

    Well, what about them? Those I knew at school, college and in my profession as a freelancer in London were, to me, just as English and decent as English and decent could be. Some became my best friends. They weren’t parasites or scroungers, but remembered my favours in terms of a Scotch or a much-needed cigarette. I loved the guys, and so it did not bother me in the least that most of them slid almost seamlessly into positions of executive authority into almost all divisions of the corporate UK media. I put it down to ‘talent’, or that universal cop-out, ‘synergy’.

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