Connect with us


Short jail terms fail to prevent reoffending, says former England and Wales magistrate

Short jail terms

Short jail terms fail to prevent reoffending, says former England and Wales magistrate

Criminals in England and Wales are being jailed for short terms that fail to prevent reoffending because of a lack of awareness and availability of community-based sentencing, a leading former magistrate has said.

Rather than jailing or fining someone, magistrates have the alternative of imposing a Community Sentence Treatment Requirement (CSTR), which can be for mental health problems, or alcohol or drug dependency.

However, short custodial terms are being handed out “by default”, according to John Bache, former national chair of the Magistrates Association. They fail to achieve the objectives of sentencing and impact offender’s families, he added, even driving children to follow in their footsteps in some cases.

“I don’t see that short jail terms actually achieve a great deal,” he said. “The bulk of these people, who commit multiple crimes, they’ve got an underlying problem, which is mental health or alcohol or drugs or a combination of any two or three of those.

“The treatment for that is not to shove them in prison, because if they haven’t got a drug problem when they go into prison they’re likely to have one when they come out. The solution is to attempt to treat alcoholism or their drug requirements.”

Describing the justice system as “grossly underfunded” – the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) lost more than a quarter of its budget in a decade – Bache said the government needed to commit cash to ensure universal availability of CSTRs.

“The problem is those courses [CSTRs] aren’t always available and it is a huge postcode lottery. So you might be in one area of London, where the course is readily available but you go to a shire county and they just aren’t available.”

He added: “The crazy thing is that it would actually be cheaper to treat these people in the community rather than send them to custody.

“It is cheaper financially in the short term and it also be cheaper in the long term. You’re not going to get 100% success but hopefully it’s going to stop some of them coming back into the justice system into the revolving door of prisons.”

Two-thirds of people sentenced to a prison term of six months or less go on to commit a further crime within a year of being released. The reoffending rate is much lower for people handed non-custodial sentences.

Bache said the problem was not just funding but that CSTRs are not always incorporated into probation service pre-sentence reports – sometimes because they are not available – and some magistrates are unaware or unconvinced of their benefits.

He called for more emphasis during magistrates’ training on prevention of reoffending.

While the Criminal Justice Act 2003 sets out five purposes of sentencing, Bache said too often the focus was on just one – punishment of offenders – reflecting “the age-old English obsession with punishment”.

Short jail terms offer no opportunity for rehabilitation, he said, while for an offender’s children “their whole life is turned upside down through no fault of their own”. “Should we be surprised if their behaviour becomes unacceptable and if they themselves begin to demonstrate criminal tendencies?”

A MoJ spokesperson said: “While sentencing is a matter for independent judges, we are committed to tackling the drivers of crime and making community sentences tougher and more effective.

“We recently invested an extra £80m to expand community treatment services in England – the biggest funding increase in 15 years – helping thousands more offenders turn their backs on crime and better protecting the public.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × 1 =


Governor Ortom Mourns Elder Statesman, Paul Unongo

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has expressed deep pains over the death of an elder statesman Dr Paul Unongo, saying “we have lost a pathfinder and leader of an inestimable value.”

Unongo, a former Minister of Power and Steel in the Second Republic, died at 87 in Jos, Plateau State on Tuesday.

Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Nathaniel Ikyur on Wednesday in Makurdi quoted his principal in a statement, describing Unongo him as a father figure who led the emancipation of the ordinary citizens without ethnic or religious barriers.

“The leadership role Unongo played in the political evolution of Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

“He was a mentor to many leaders of today who have great ideas for the socio-political and economic development of the country.

Ortom said Benue’s Iroko tree and one of the last icons of political leadership in Nigeria has fallen, adding that Unongo’s contributions to the politics of the country from post-independence till date cannot be quantified.

“Indeed the state has lost a leader and mentor. His death has created a vacuum that will be difficult to refill.

“We shall miss his intellect, great ideas, oratory prowess and immense capacity for mobilisation and organisation of the people.

“I am consoled that Unongo’s legacies of patriotism, pan Nigerian and philanthropy will endure.

“The state will do the needful to immortalise Unongo for his selfless services and contributions to the development of the state,”Ortom said.

He prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest and the immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Unongo too from over Maitama Sule as the chairman of the Northern Elders’ Forum. In 2017.

Continue Reading


BREAKING: Court Jails Student Over Tweet On Aisha Buhari

An Abuja court has sent a university student, Aminu Muhammad, to prison over a post on Twitter mocking first lady Aisha Buhari.

The student, according to BBC Hausa Service, was sent to prison on Tuesday.

The student’s lawyer, CK Agu, told BBC that the judge has refused to grant his client bail.

Mr Aminu was remanded in prion custody till December 5, 2022, the lawyer said.

Continue Reading


Top ISWAP Commander Killed In Airstrike In Lake Chad Region

A top commander of the Islamic State of the West African Province (ISWAP), Muhammad Malik has been killed by troops of the air task force in the Lake Chad region.

Zagazola Makama, a publication focused on the Lake Chad region reported that Malik died on November 29 from the fatal injuries he sustained during the attack.

Nigerian troops were said to have launched a coordinated intelligence-led aerial and ground operation and targeted the jihadist group’s location in the Sabon Tumbun area of Lake Chad on November 24.

This attack was also said to have led to the killing of scores of fighters.

Malik is said to have been a member of the Shura Council in Marte before he went for a course in computer engineering and improvised explosive device (IED) making, sponsored by ISIS in Somalia.

On his return, he reportedly established IED training units where fighters were trained in deploying explosives during attacks.

In the last few months, the Nigerian military has been recording a series of successes in the fight against insurgency in the Lake Chad region and other northern states.

Troops had recently repelled an attack by insurgents at Wawa cantonment in Borgu LGA of Niger state as well as the killing of three commanders of ISWAP in Borno.



Continue Reading