Ministry of Justice
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Justice Minister supports community sentences to cut crime

Justice Minister supports community sentences to cut crime

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE News Release (No:045/08) issued by The Government News Network on 3 June 2008

Tough community sentences have a real impact on reducing crime and preventing offenders from reoffending said David Hanson MP today launching a new document outlining the impact of strong community punishments.

Putting offenders through tough community sentences can often be more effective in reducing reoffending than a short spell in prison.

Mr Hanson was launching a new report, 'Community Sentencing - Reducing Reoffending, Changing Lives', which shows how such punishments for less serious offenders work in the battle against crime.

The minister is also commencing a series of regional discussions on sentencing policy and to highlight how community sentences play a key role in cutting reoffending.

David Hanson MP said,

"Prison is necessary to punish offenders and protect the public from serious sexual and violent offenders. The Government will always ensure there are places available for those offenders. But it is not necessarily the best route for less serious offenders who may lose their job, their accommodation and their family ties after a short period of imprisonment. Avoiding these issues cuts the likelihood of reoffending on release, and in doing so cuts crime.

"No one wants crime in their communities - it creates victims and places a significant burden on the tax payer. It costs around £37,000 to lock an offender up for a year. But it isn't always the most effective way of dealing with an offender. We have a duty to ensure that we provide punishments which are most effective in cutting re-offending.

"The truth is that for many offenders community sentences are more effective in cutting re-offending than short-term prison sentences and we need to ensure the public have confidence that this is fact.

"A three year community order with supervision and 100 hours of unpaid work is a tough sentence which places heavy demands on the offender. Recent statistics show that the frequency of re-offending for those sentenced to community orders has fallen sharply by 13 per cent. I'm determined to widen this debate over the next six months and will be taking the discussion out to local communities."

The Government committed £40 million in March to ensure magistrates have tough community sentences at their disposal. We also announced an additional investment of £13.9 million over the next three years to fund six new intensive alternatives to custody projects which will give offenders more supervision and support.

The piloting of intensive alternatives to custody and the provision of more rigorous non-custodial regimes were recommended in the Carter Review published last year and accepted by the Ministry of Justice.

Notes to Editors

1. The community order, introduced in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, gives sentencers the flexibility they need to tailor community sentences to the offence and the offender. Within the community order, there are a number of very demanding requirements ranging from regular drug testing, treatment and monitoring under the Drug Rehabilitation Requirement to more punitive elements such as curfews and physically demanding working in the community under the unpaid work requirement.

2. Unpaid work can include bringing derelict areas and buildings back into public use such as clearing church yards, repairing park benches and removing graffiti. Offenders are put to hard work to make communities better places to live and they often carry out work that would otherwise not be completed.

3. The report 'Community Sentencing - Reducing Reoffending, Changing Lives' can be found at from the 3 June.


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