More than half of “highly prolific” criminals are never sent to prison
More than half of criminals with at least 45 previous convictions do Prison rescueA report was found.
So-called “overproducing criminals” were convicted of nearly 10,000 crimes last year, but only 47 per cent of them received an immediate prison sentence, with some receiving no substantive punishment at all.
Data published by Policy Exchange, a think tank, revealed that “heavy offenders” – those with at least 16 previous convictions – were only jailed in a quarter of cases.
With charging decisions now taking longer and the prison population expected to exceed capacity soon, the report warns that the criminal justice system is a “public safety time bomb.”
Report written by ex Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector David Spencer said: “An effective criminal justice system is fundamental to the running of a functioning state – protecting its citizens is one of the government’s first responsibilities.
“Although there are of course exceptions, the ministers and officials who have been responsible for our criminal justice system who have reached this point have exposed the public to serious risk from dangerous and prevalent criminals.”
A prolific sex offender has been given a suspended sentence
In one case, a prolific sex offender, with more than 100 previous convictions, was given a suspended sentence despite being found guilty of 15 other child sex offences.
In another case, a Gateshead man, who had 343 previous convictions, was issued a community order after being found guilty of a further 10 theft offences.
Analysis of data on the most prolific offenders – those with more than 45 convictions – revealed that in the year to December 2022, 11% of them received community sentences; 13 percent were fined; 11% of them received suspended sentences, while 7% received conditional release.
Send repeat offenders to prison
The report recommends changing the law to ensure that offenders who end up repeatedly appearing before the courts are sent to prison.
Mr Spencer, head of crime and justice at Policy Exchange, said: “There is a group of criminals who, despite their excessive crimes causing misery to victims and communities, regularly avoid prison sentences.
“It cannot be right or fair for the law-abiding public to have to tolerate this level of law-breaking by the same individuals over and over again.
“Parliament should legislate so that the courts sentence these individuals to prison upon conviction. This would protect the public and provide the opportunity for these criminals to do work that would make them less likely to commit crimes when they are released.
The mandatory minimum sentence is two years imprisonment
The report proposes imposing a mandatory minimum sentence of two years’ imprisonment for prolific adult offenders if they are convicted of other crimes.
But for those who are sent to prison, the authors strongly criticize the state of prisons, describing it as “disgraceful.”
Peter Clarke, former Chief Inspector of Prisons, who wrote the introduction to the report, said: “Most crimes are committed by a relatively small proportion of offenders. They cause devastation, harm and distress in their communities.
“They live a life that is dangerous to themselves and those around them. Many are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
“Right now, there is little to help set them on a better path. The criminal justice system is failing to protect the public from the depredations of these prolific criminals.
“It is also failing many offenders who want to change their lives but need help to do so.”
The report also highlights the growing backlog in the justice system, revealing that the average time for suspects to be charged has tripled over the past seven years from 14 days to 44 days.