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Some criminals given 10 suspended sentences before incarceration

Published 11/07/2016

Concerns have been raised that some career criminals are being left to walk the streets
Concerns have been raised that some career criminals are being left to walk the streets

Criminals are being handed up to 10 suspended sentences at a time before they are finally put in prison, new figures have revealed.

The numbers have sparked concerns that career criminals are being left to walk the streets of Britain.

Police national computer records show that criminals at crown courts, which hear the most serious cases, had up to eight suspended sentences before being put behind bars.

And in the magistrates' courts, which usually hear less serious matters, criminals had up to 10 suspended sentences without being put in prison, according to figures up until December 31 2015 and released by the Ministry of Justice.

Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering and a former special constable with British Transport Police, said: "I think most people would be horrified that a criminal needs to get so many suspended sentences before they actually end up in jail.

"The way to crack down on crime is to ensure that career criminals are put in prison as early as possible, not as late as possible, because they will then be unable to commit further crimes whilst inside."

The figures emerged in a parliamentary question asked by Shipley's Conservative MP Philip Davies, who sits on the Justice Committee.

Justice minister Dominic Raab, in his reply, told Mr Davies: "Where the court imposes a custodial sentence of two years or less it may suspend the sentence, for up to two years, and also impose one or more community requirements.

"This is a decision for the independent judiciary.

"If the offender breaches a suspended sentence order, there is a statutory presumption that the custodial sentence will be given effect, unless it would be unjust to do so in view of all of the circumstances

"Repeat offenders can expect to go straight to prison if they commit a serious offence. Offenders serving suspended custodial sentences, however, have a lower re-offending rate than offenders serving immediate, short custodial sentences.

"The highest number of suspended sentences received by one person who has not also received an immediate custodial sentence, as recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC) up to 31 December 2015, and the latest sentencing occasion being (a) in a magistrates' court was 10 and (b) in the Crown Court was six.

"The highest number of suspended sentences received by one person, as recorded on the PNC up to December 2015, before receiving an immediate custodial sentence in; (a) a magistrates' court was nine and (b) the Crown Court was eight."

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