Uncompleted community punishments rise

MORE and more community punishments are not being completed by criminals in Suffolk, it emerged today.

MORE and more community punishments are not being completed by criminals in Suffolk, it emerged today.

Latest statistics show numbers of crooks failing to complete unpaid work orders in the county has more than TREBLED in the space of just a year.

Government figures show between April 2005 and March 2006, a total of 79 unpaid work requirements were uncompleted by offenders in the county for various reasons.

However this figure surged by a whopping 220 per cent to 234 for the period between April 2006 and March 2007.

Unpaid work requirements were introduced under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and came into effect in April 2005, supervised by the National Probation Service.

Reasons why orders are breached include because another offence is committed, a solicitor makes an application on behalf of their client, the criminal fails to turn up or the order is terminated.

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Suffolk Probation disputes the government figures claiming they only relate to certain unpaid work requirements.

They say their own figures - which include other types of community orders - show less of an increase, with 36pc more breaches between April 2006 and March 2007 (397) compared to the previous year (291).

Steve Pestell, Suffolk Probation Area assistant chief officer, said: “Unpaid work remains a probation success story. The figures given in response to the parliamentary question paint an incomplete picture.

“Courts in Suffolk have put more offenders on unpaid work requirements as part of community orders or suspended sentence orders.

“We have exceeded our targets for completions and rank among the top performing probation services in the country for our unpaid work success.

“We also rigorously enforce unpaid work orders and take people back to court if they fail to comply.

“This inevitably means a number do not complete their orders.

“We never rest on our laurels. We realised the level of stand-downs (cancellations) were increasing and took action to halt the rise, which has already resulted in falling levels of stand-downs.”

Do you think unpaid work orders are effective? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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