Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Re-Offending Figures a Cause for Alarm; MP Warns Cuts Will Make the Situation Worse

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Re-Offending Figures a Cause for Alarm; MP Warns Cuts Will Make the Situation Worse

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional Affairs Correspondent ? 0191 201 6286 ? adrian.pearson@ncjmedia.co.uk

ALMOST half of all criminals handed a community sentence go on to commit further crimes, new figures have shown.

Data uncovered by Wearside MP Bridget Phillipson shows that in recent years many of those given softer sentences rather than prison stays commit further violent attacks, thefts and drug-related crimes with 12 months of their punishment.

Despite some signs of improvement, more than 40% of those handed the chance to avoid jail are going on to re-offend.

In the Northumbria area hundreds of public order and violent crimes are being committed by those who failed to learn their lesson.

Already police commissioner Vera Baird has met with probation chiefs to see how they will cope with difficult Government spending cuts.

Drug, theft and violent crime are the main repeat offences committed for some age groups.

And with cuts to prison services, probation services and further police budget reductions, some are warning it may get even harder to keep people out of trouble.

This month Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed she will continue with cuts set to wipe 20% off Northumbria Police's budget.

And Houghton and Sunderland South MP Ms Phillipson has said the situation could get worse as a result of further Government cuts.

Ms Phillipson, who sits on the influential Home Affairs select committee, said the probation service is calling out for clarity over what future it faces.

She said: "I welcome the figures showing that overall re-offending was down between 2006 and 2010. I've seen first hand the excellent work probation staff in Northumbria do to keep us safe. Their work with offenders is vital in addressing the root causes of offending.

"However, we need to maintain this progress as re-offending blights communities and makes residents fearful. "Cutting rates of re-offending goes hand in hand with tackling crime. …

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