Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 12:08 UK

Violence bucks reoffending trend

Jack Straw
The Justice Secretary recently announced a reoffending strategy

There has been a slight rise in the number of offenders going on to commit further sexual and violent crimes in England and Wales, figures show.

The Ministry of Justice figures show the overall proportion of convicted criminals re-offending decreased during a year-long study of their behaviour.

But those who did continue to break the law in the 12 months after a sentence committed more serious offences.

Figures show juvenile re-offending fell slightly over the same period.

The Ministry of Justice compiled the figures from recording what happened to offenders in the 12 months following a prison or the start of a community sentence.

The study followed and compared the lives of offenders convicted in 2000 and 2005.


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According to the figures comparing the groups, the number of new crimes committed fell from 189 to 167 fresh offences per 100 criminals.

In all, the offenders from 2000 had committed 84,455 new offences over the course of the 12 months while the 2005 group had committed 74,407.

At the same time, the proportion of those convicted re-offending fell from 43.7% to 41.6%.

The most common re-offending related to theft, vehicle crime and absconding or breaching bail.

However, the figures also show the number of re-offences classed as the most serious or severe rose from 347 to 388.

For the 2000 group, there were 282 serious violent crimes committed; for the 2005 group there were 289. Sexual re-offences and child sex offences also increased.

Juvenile figures

Figures covering the same period for juvenile reoffending showed falls across all the measures.

This is a model that should be built on, not abandoned
Prisons watchdog Anne Owers

The rate of re-offending fell from 151 to 125 fresh crimes per 100 offenders and the proportion of offenders continuing to break the law fell - although the year-on-year changes were very slight.

Of those who did reoffend, the number committing the most serious or violent offenders also fell slightly.

A closer analysis reveals that re-offending fell for all ages other than 11 and 12-year-olds.

The vast majority of fresh law-breaking concerned acts of minor violence, theft, criminal damage, vehicle crimes and public order offences.

'On target'

The Ministry of Justice said the figures indicated the government would be likely to achieve its target of a 5% reduction in re-offending.

Justice Minister David Hanson said he was pleased with the figures which would help experts to better analyse crime trends.

"It is gratifying to see that today's results indicate that we will meet and likely exceed our current target for reducing adult re-offending.

"I am of course concerned by the increase in adult serious re-offending since 2000, although this should be seen in the context of our policy to improve reporting of sex offences.

"There is still less than one serious offence per 100 re-offenders, and we are absolutely committed to reducing this further."

The government has pledged more work to tackle re-offending including enhanced vocational training fro some prisoners.

In January, Justice Secretary Jack Straw said in a written statement that the plans signalled "a major drive to overcome some of the barriers to the rehabilitation of offenders".

However, on the same day the re-offending figures were released, the prisons watchdog attacked the closure of a unit with a proven record in rehabilitating teenage criminals.


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