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UK: Ministry of Justice: Compendium of re-offending statistics and analysis

10th May 2011

New figures published by the Ministry of Justice have highlighted the effect that prison sentences have on re-offending rates. The figures have been compared with earlier reports from the Ministry from a sample of "matched" offenders based on age, ethnicity, gender, number of offences committed and most recent offence type.

The report found that longer sentences, from 2 to 4 years, had more of an impact on re-offending rates than shorter sentences of 1-2 years. The report also finds that those given shorter sentences again of less than 12 months have higher rates of re-offending than longer sentences.

Those who received short term custodial sentences were more likely to re-offend than those who were given community service orders or suspended sentences. In particular, the report highlights how shorter sentences are less effective because of the limitations of implementing offender management programmes. The fact that those given shorter sentences are not subject to probation supervision is also a factor.

While this report highlights the impact that sentence types have on re-offending rates, it also emphasizes that it is not certain if the deterrent effect of prison actually effects re-offending rates or not.

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