Suffolk: Shock as crimes committed by offenders on probation rocket

SUFFOLK: Crimes committed by offenders on licence or probation have risen by nearly 35 per cent in a year, according to the latest government figures.

A leading victims’ charity said the large increase would come as a blow to many – as they would see it as a failure of the justice system.

The Ministry of Justice has revealed there were 1,381 offences committed in Suffolk in 2009/10 by criminals who were still serving their sentence in the community or were on licence.

That figure increased from 1,026 offences carried out in 2008/09 and the 1,081 crimes in 2007/08.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has made no secret of the fact that he does not feel short custodial sentences are effective and plans to reduce the prison population by around 3,000 over four years.

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The government has also announced three prisons in Rutland, Lancashire, and Lincolnshire, are to be closed.

Paul Fawcett, a spokesman for Victim Support, said: “In our experience, most victims are pretty disappointed when they see failures in the system of punishment and rehabilitation. The reason is the way the justice system works is if someone does something wrong you don’t get back at them yourself.

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“You trust the State to do that and when the state fails that is a very hard thing for the victim to hear. For many, it is a double blow.

“We understand the pressure on the public purse, but there have been some very significant gains in the justice system over the last 10 to 20 years that we don’t always recognise. Crime rates have come down steadily and if those things are undone there’s a risk we will fail victims.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Probation Service staff carry out extremely valuable work to protect the public, reduce re-offending and support victims.

“This government is committed to exploring new approaches to rehabilitation that use prisons, probation and independent providers to turn around offenders’ lives and ensure that there is less chance of people becoming future victims.

“The public will be protected by ensuring that the most serious, dangerous and persistent offenders are effectively managed in custody.

“The government is clear that, by introducing more effective sentencing policies and overhauling the system of rehabilitation, more can be done to reduce re-offending.”

Leanne Boast, spokeswoman for Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust, said: “All offenders subject to probation supervision on release from prison have to adhere to a set of strict conditions. They are subject to recall to custody if they breach their conditions or their behaviour indicates that it is no longer safe for them to remain in the community.

“We make continual improvements and embrace what works best to deliver a reduction in re-offending.”

n Is enough being done to curb re-offending? Write to Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters

n Opinion – page 6

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