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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Reoffending rates are climbing

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MoJ stats for the year to June 2017 reveal that adult reoffending rates are rising.

Adult reoffending on the rise

Last week (25 April 2019) the MoJ published the latest proven reoffending statistics for both adult and juvenile offenders, including both those released from custody, and those who received a community sentence for the quarter between April and June 2017.

The figures aren’t published until almost two years later because a re-offence is defined as any offence committed in a one year follow-up period from either release from prison or the making of a non-custodial sentence plus a further six month waiting period to allow the offence to be proven in court and officially recorded.

Key findings

The headline findings were:

  • The overall proven reoffending rate increased from the same quarter in the previous year by 0.4 percentage points. Over the time series, the rate has fluctuated between 29% and 32%.
  • The adult proven reoffending rate has increased from the same quarter in the previous year by 0.7 percentage points. The rate has fluctuated between approximately 28% and 31%.
  • The juvenile reoffending rate decreased by 3.3 percentage points from the same quarter in the previous year. However, the number of offenders in the cohort has fallen by 85% since the same quarter in 2006.
  • The proven reoffending rate for adult offenders released from custody or starting court orders has increased slightly by 0.2 percentage point since the same quarter last year but has decreased by 2.3 percentage points since the same quarter in 2011.
  • Adults who served custodial sentences of less than 12 months had a proven reoffending rate of 64.4%, an increase of 0.6 percentage points from the same quarter in the previous year.

Adult offenders

Adult offenders accounted for 93% (around 103,000) of the April to June 2017 cohort. Around 30,000 of all adult offenders were proven to have committed at least one reoffence within a year, giving a proven reoffending rate of 29.2%. This is an increase of 0.7 percentage points since the same quarter in 2016. The adult reoffending rate has remained broadly flat since 2006, fluctuating between 28% and 31%. Around 122,000 proven reoffences were committed by adults over the one-year follow-up period. Those that reoffended in the April to June 2017 cohort committed on average 4.05 reoffences. This has broadly been increasing since 2009 and has increased by 28% since April to June 2009.

Offenders with a larger number of previous offences have a higher rate of proven reoffending than those with fewer previous offences. In the April to June 2017 cohort, the proven reoffending rates for adults ranged from 7.0% for offenders with no previous offences to 50.1% for offenders with 11 or more previous offences

Juvenile offenders

38.4% of juvenile offenders in the April to June 2017 cohort reoffended within one year. Around 8,000 juvenile offenders were cautioned, convicted or released from custody in the April to June 2017 cohort and around 3,000 of them committed a reoffence. This gives a proven reoffending rate of 38.4%, a decrease of 3.3 percentage points since the same quarter in 2016. The new reoffending measure, however, is likely to be more variable from quarter to quarter due to the smaller size of the cohorts. The size of the cohort has fallen by fallen by 85% since 2006.

The bulletin also contains data which reminds us of the value of cautions for young offenders. The reoffending rate for juvenile offenders given youth cautions has decreased by 2.2 percentage points since the same quarter last year. Reprimands and warnings for youths were abolished under the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 with effect from 8 April 2013 and replaced with youth cautions.

Youth cautions are a formal out-of-court disposal that can be used as an alternative to prosecution for juvenile offenders in certain circumstances. A youth caution may be given for any offence where the young offender admits an offence and there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute.

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All Probation Posts are sponsored by Unilink

With over 20 years’ experience in the criminal justice sector, Unilink is a world leader in probation and community corrections software applications, as well as prisoner self-service, prisoner/case management and prisoner communications. Unilink’s integrated suite of products provide a complete digital solution enabling efficient running of prisons and probation. Underpinned by biometrics it integrates seamlessly to deliver security, efficiency and value – while being proven to help rehabilitate prisoners.

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