Suffolk: More than a third of curfew orders handed out at courts in Suffolk are breached, new figures reveal

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Police in Suffolk are frustrated by “relatively ineffective” curfew orders dished out to criminals, it was claimed last night, as latest figures show more than a third of orders made last year were breached.

In a Freedom of Information request sent to the court service, officials confirmed a total of 331 electronically monitored curfew orders were made in 2012.

However, the data has also shown there were 131 reported breaches last year, with 107 breached once, 18 twice and six three times.

Court service officials have defended the figures, saying imposing a curfew order is an effective measure which can be used to deal with a range of incidents.

But Matt Gould, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, admitted curfew orders being made and subsequently breached was frustrating for officers.

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However he questioned whether any other methods would be as effective.

“From our perspective, we have got the members of the public at our heart and it is frustrating for us that we are catching these people and then what appears to be a relatively ineffective sentence is being imposed,” he said. “But I am not convinced that short custodial sentences are much better.

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“It is frustrating if people are just flouting those curfew orders but there is no evidence to suggest any other measures would be as effective.

“Unless there is a substantial sentence, there is no opportunity to reform the offenders.

“From our perspective, we need to ensure there are officers out there to effectively monitor the curfew.”

Curfew orders are imposed on offenders for a period of up to 12 months and restrict people to staying at an agreed address within a specified time, with the aim to break the habit of offending.

A spokesman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service said: “Whilst a curfew with electronic monitoring is often used as a direct alternative to custody by sentencing courts, it can also be used effectively for a range of offence types as a punishment, or as a tool to complement other community sentence interventions in a wider offender management package.”

Figures from the Freedom of Information request have also shown 2,017 adult offenders received a caution from Suffolk police in 2010, with 366 of those going on to reoffend within a year – a reoffending rate of 18.1%. Figures for 2011 and 2012 are not yet available from the court service.

Speaking earlier this month about the number of cautions, assistant chief constable for Suffolk police, Tim Newcomb, said: “A caution is a valid means of disposal in any criminal investigation and should not be taken lightly.”

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