ankle tags tracked by satellites will be used to keep tabs on offenders and almost all community sentences will include some form of punishment, the Justice Secretary has said.
Chris Grayling will change the Crime and Courts Bill to bring in satellite tracking and to toughen up community orders.
But when the plans were originally announced by Mr Grayling’s predecessor Ken Clarke, even the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) impact assessment warned the move could increase reoffending if the new punitive element forces out rehabilitation requirements.
Mr Grayling said: “We’re today putting punishment back into community sentencing.
“This is about sending a clear message to offenders and the public that you if commit a crime, you can expect to be punished properly.
“Community sentences are not a soft option any more.”
But the MoJ impact assessment warned in March: “For offenders who receive intensive community punishment, there is a risk that re-offending rates may be higher than other community orders if some of the rehabilitative requirements are replaced.”
Satellite tracking will also be brought in and a £5,000 cap on fines set by magistrates will be removed to “make community sentences much more effective”, Mr Grayling said.
“We will use the latest GPS technology to track offenders’ movements, and are giving the courts increased powers to set fines that hit offenders in their pockets and are lifting the cap on compensation orders to provide proper compensation to victims.”
The new measures will mean more offenders could be forced to clean up graffiti, clear litter and help to rejuvenate their communities, the MoJ said.
Only two-thirds of community orders currently contain a punitive requirement, but this will rise “significantly to almost all adult community sentences” under the move, the ministry added.
In what was billed as a landmark speech on crime and justice yesterday, the Prime Minister said the Government was “toughening up community sentences”.
“Having a monthly meeting with a probation officer is hardly a punishment,” David Cameron told an audience in central London.
“We’re laying amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill, making sure that every community sentence contains an element of punishment.
“We’re introducing new GPS satellite tagging that will pinpoint exactly where offenders are, making it literally impossible to hide under the radar.
“So if you’re on a community sentence you will be supervised, you’ll be properly punished and you’ll be forced to complete that sentence.”