Quarter of criminals reoffend in probation

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One in four offenders given community sentences or released from prison early on licence fail to comply with the terms set down by the authorities, figures revealed.

A total of 198,725 orders and licences came to an end in 2010/11, but only 150,632 were completed successfully, according to a National Offender Management Service report.

Officials, who described the reoffending rate as “unacceptably high”, said the Government was reviewing the probation service and aiming to make community sentences tougher in the future.

It comes as one probation chief warned people could “fall through the system” and the role of the probation service could disappear if more and more of its work was transferred to the private sector.

Heather Munro, vice-chairwoman of the Probation Chiefs’ Association, said: “If you’ve got one set of people delivering people on community payback, somebody else delivering tagging services, somebody else delivering programmes that offenders go on, and you’ve got somebody else trying to hold the whole thing together – there is a real worry about fragmentation and that’s when people fall through the system.”

Figures also showed that more than 22,000 criminals failed to complete their unpaid work successfully after being given a community order or suspended sentence. Only 67,611 of the 89,875 community payback orders which ended last year were completed successfully.

Some 18,330 days of unpaid work by offenders were also lost due to operational difficulties, such as a lack of supervisors, transport or work, despite the offender being willing, the report said.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Reoffending in this country is unacceptably high - which is why we are reforming sentences so offenders are properly punished and the root causes of their behaviour are addressed.

“We are currently reviewing the future shape of probation services and reviewing community sentences to make them tougher and will set out our approach soon.”

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