More than 40 per cent of offenders who are jailed in the Northumbria Police force area have their sentences suspended, according to the Centre for Crime Prevention.
The campaign group has said that an ‘astonishing number’ of serious and repeat offenders’ prison sentences are being suspended by the courts, meaning no time in jail is served.
According to data obtained through Freedom of Information requests, nationwide 11,670 serious offenders had their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13 despite more than 10 previous convictions or cautions, while 9,052 serious offenders had their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13 despite 15 or more previous conviction or cautions.
The Centre says that suspended sentences are also failing to stop reoffending. Data reveals there were 110,745 cases of criminals sentenced last year despite one or more previous suspended sentences. There were 215 examples of criminals being found guilty despite 10 or more suspended sentences.
And the Northumbria Police force area has the highest share of criminals sentenced to prison who have their sentences suspended in the country at 42 per cent.
In 2002, 89 sentences were suspended, representing three per cent of all prison sentences. Ten years later, in 2012, this had risen to 1,391, or 42 per cent.
Peter Cuthbertson, author of the report and director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “Thugs and sex offenders who think they are finally going to prison are overjoyed when find out that the prison sentence has been suspended. It makes a mockery of justice for victims and puts the public at great risk. These figures show that criminals given suspended sentences go on to commit hundreds of thousands of crimes. Suspended sentences should be abolished.”