Big rise in number of serious offenders being given suspended prison sentences, says report

St Helens Star: The centre says that nationally, suspended sentences are being handed out for thousands of offences each year, ranging from spitting at people to manslaughter The centre says that nationally, suspended sentences are being handed out for thousands of offences each year, ranging from spitting at people to manslaughter

NEARLY one in three violent, sexual or property offenders in the region are walking free from court, a new report has revealed.

Research from the Centre for Crime Prevention shows a growing number of serious and repeat offenders’ prison sentences are being suspended by courts across Merseyside.

The centre says that nationally, suspended sentences are being handed out for thousands of offences each year, ranging from spitting at people to manslaughter.

It adds that one judge has described suspended sentences as being handed out “a bit like confetti”.

Merseyside saw a big rise in suspended sentences, from 41 in 2002, which is one offender in every 1,081, to 1,338 in 2012, one in 28.

The percentage of prison sentences suspended has risen from one per cent to 32 per cent.

Peter Cuthbertson, the report’s author and director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “Thugs and sex offenders who think they are finally going to prison are overjoyed when they find out that the prison sentence has been suspended.

“It makes a mockery of justice for victims and puts the public at great risk.

“These figures show that criminals given suspended sentences go on to commit hundreds of thousands of crimes. Suspended sentences should be abolished.”

Other key findings of the report show that across the UK, 11,670 serious offenders had their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13, despite more than 10 previous convictions or cautions.

And 9,052 serious offenders had their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13 despite 15 or more previous conviction or cautions.

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