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Re-offending rates hit 12 year low

The overall proven reoffending rate was 28.1% for the October to December 2018 offender cohort, the lowest reoffending rate in the twelve-year timeseries.

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Drop in all reoffending rates

Last week (29 October 2020) the MoJ published the latest proven reoffending statistics for both adult and child (or juvenile as MoJ & ONS continue to refer to young people) offenders, including both those released from custody, and those who received a community sentence for the quarter between October to December 2018.

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.

Reoffending rates tend to fluctuate slightly but consistent drops of the magnitude found in this bullet are rare. The statistician cautions that “the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a reasonably small effect on the proven reoffending rates for the latest offender cohort but it is too early to tell”.

The headline findings are summarised in the graphic below:

Juvenile reoffending

The juvenile reoffending rate was 37.3%, a 0.7 percentage point decrease from the same quarter in the previous year. Of the approximately 6,000 juvenile offenders in the October to December 2018 cohort, just over 2,000 of them committed a reoffence within a one-year follow-up period (equivalent to around 8,000 proven reoffences). However, the number of offenders in the cohort has fallen by 88% since the same quarter in 2007 and has fluctuated between 36.3% and 43.6% over the years, creating a more volatile series. Those that reoffended committed on average 3.92 reoffences each.

Adult reoffending

The adult reoffending rate for the October to December 2018 cohort was 27.5% which is a 0.6 percentage point decrease from the same quarter in 2017; this is the lowest reoffending rate in the twelve-year timeseries which has fluctuated between 27.5% and 30.6%. Almost 101,000 proven reoffences were committed over the one-year follow-up period by around 25,000 of adults. Those that reoffended committed on average 3.97 reoffences; this represents a 0.05 decrease in reoffences compared to the same quarter in 2017 and the lowest adult frequency rate since April to June 2016.

The data compares the one year reoffending rate for different disposals. 

The proven reoffending rate for adult offenders starting a court order specifically was 31.2%, a 0.8% decrease since the same period in 2017 and a 5.5 percentage point decrease when compared to the same quarter in 2011, the year for which the PbR baseline was originally constructed for the Community Rehabilitation Company contracts.

The proven reoffending rate for adult offenders released from custody was 45.4%, a 2.1 percentage point decrease compared to the same quarter the previous year. However, adults who served sentences of 12 months or more reoffended at a substantially lower rate at 26.9% compared to those who served a sentence of less than 12 months at a rate of 61.0%. Those released from sentences of less than or equal to 6 months had a proven reoffending rate of 63.6%, a decrease of 1.9 percentage points since the same quarter in the previous year.

It is likely that the next reoffending bulletin will show a further drop in reoffending rates. This is because of the continuing backlog in the courts and the fact that more of the subsequent cohort will have been in their one year follow-up period during lockdown when we know that police recorded crime (for April-June quarter this year) fell by 19%. Indeed, it is likely to be some time before we have reoffending figures which can reliably be compared with the recent past.

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