COMMUNITY sentences handed to criminals are having ‘little or no effect’, Burton’s MP has said, after figures revealed thousands of prisoners had racked up more than 10 of them before finally being jailed.
Shocking statistics released at the request of Andrew Griffiths revealed that of the total number of criminals jailed in the UK in 2012, more than 10,000 of them had previously served at least 10 community orders.
A further 26,000 had served between five and nine orders and 42,000 between one and four, whereas 25,000 had never had a community sentence prior to being jailed.
The sentences will typically mean the recipient has to carry out unpaid work or attend rehabilitation courses, but keeps them out of jail.
But Mr Griffiths said the figures showed that many sentences are too lenient and are not stopping criminals from re-offending.
He called for tougher sentences for persistent offenders.
Mr Griffiths said: “I think most people will find the figures absolutely shocking. How can people have confidence in community sentences if they are handed to offenders time and time again with seemingly little or no effect?
“We need to make sure persistent offenders are given proper punishments much sooner otherwise they will continue to inflict misery on communities.”
But Jeremy Wright, parliamentary under-secretary of state for justice, who released the figures to the House of Commons, defended the system.
He said: “The Government is committed to transforming the way that offenders are rehabilitated in the community, so that more offenders engage with court orders and post-release supervision and fewer re-offend.”
Mr Wright added that the Government was intending to toughen up community orders and said when prison sentences are handed out, they must be justified.
He said: “By drawing on the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors the Government wishes to see new, innovative approaches to tackling our current stubbornly high re-offending rates.”
“From December 11 provisions in the Crime and Courts Act 2013 will require community orders to include a punitive element.
“In order to impose a custodial sentence the court must be satisfied that the offence is so serious that neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified.”