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Northumbria Probation Area

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Justice Minister asks Newcastle for views on community sentences

The views of the people of Newcastle are being sought today by Justice Minister David Hanson MP on how to ensure we have tough punishments for offenders in the community.

David Hanson is coming to the city to spend time exploring the issues of community sentencing and to hear peoples’ views about their effectiveness in cutting re-offending and paying back to the community. This is one of four regional events which are being held around England and Wales.

As part of his visit he will be visiting the successful alcohol treatment service Bridge View which offenders attend as part of their sentence. He will then move onto the Saint Vincent de Paul, Blackfriars Centre to speak to representatives from voluntary groups, criminal justice agencies, unpaid work beneficiaries, community groups and residents associations about how we use community sentences effectively.

David Hanson said:

“I want to ensure the public have confidence in community sentences and understand what they involve and why they are effective in keeping crime down in their communities. A three year community order with supervision, a treatment programme and 100 hours of unpaid work is a tough sentence which places heavy demands on the offender.

“Prison plays a vital role in protecting our communities by locking up dangerous, violent and persistent offenders and keeping them off our streets but we shouldn’t pretend that prisons are the solution to solve all crime. That’s why the Government pursues a twin track approach, recognising that for some less serious offences, tough community-based punishments can often be more effective than short prison sentences in cutting re-offending. 

“I’m determined to widen this debate over the next six months and look forward to hearing the views of those in Newcastle. We want as many people as possible to feed into this debate to inform decisions made by the Government on your communities.”

Recent statistics show that frequency of re-offending for community sentences have fallen sharply by 13 percent. That's why in March the Ministry of Justice announced £40m to further support the probation service so that magistrates have tough community sentences that will punish offenders at their disposal.

The Government is committed to the continued transformation of the justice system into a service for victims and witnesses — one where people know it is on the side of the law-abiding majority. To do this we must open up the system further, making it more transparent and showing people through clear examples such as tough, visible Community Payback.

Since 1 December, offenders on Community Payback all across England and Wales, who are visible to the public, are required to wear orange jackets with the community payback logo.

Further information

1. A publication of a new report called “Community Sentencing – Reducing Re-offending, Changing Lives”, highlights how community sentences play a key role in cutting re-offending. It is available to download from

2. The re-offending rate following a short custodial sentences is 59.7 percent. These short sentences can lead to problems with employment, housing and family relations and there is insufficient time to tackle the causes of the offender's behaviour. The re-offending rate following a community sentences is 37.9 percent. That is why we want to see greater use made of the best community sentences which for some offenders could be more effective at reducing re-offending than short custodial sentences.

December 17, 2008

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