HC Deb 30 April 1998 vol 311 cc193-5W
Mr. Allan

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what research his Department has conducted which compares re-offending rates following prison and following alternatives to prison; and if he will make a statement; [40078]

(2) what were the re-conviction rates in the (a) one year and (b) two years following (i) release from custody and (ii) completion of community sentences in the most recent period for which figures are available; if he will indicate the methodology used; and if he will make a statement; [40028]

(3) what were the re-offending rates for young people leaving custody in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [40085]

Mr. Michael

The most recent information available on the reconviction rates of those released from custody is based on a sample of sentenced prisoners discharged during the first quarter of 1995. The reconviction rate one year after release is 39 per cent., and after two years is 55 per cent.

published in Home Office Research Study 140 'Young people, victimisation and the police: British Crime Survey findings on experiences and attitudes of 12 to 15 year olds', available in the Library.

The 1993 YLS found that 51 per cent. of young people aged 14 to 25 had experienced one incident or more of vandalism, theft, violence or threats in the 12 months preceding the survey. 29 per cent. had experienced theft, 23 per cent. vandalism, 17 per cent. violence and 13 per cent. threats. The YLS will be conducted again later this year, providing up to date findings on the victimisation of young people.

Information on the age of victims of crimes recorded by the police is not collected routinely by the Home Office. However, an ad hoc survey on violent crime shows the rates of recorded offences per 100,000 population by age and sex of victims for each of the violent crime offence categories (see table below). This information is published in Home Office Statistical Findings 1/96 'Victims of Violent Crime Recorded by the Police 1990–94', available in the Library.

These rates and others quoted in this reply relate to reconvictions for standard list offences. These include all indictable offences and some of the more serious summary offences (a complete list can be found in Appendices 4 and 5 of Criminal Statistics England and Wales, 1996, Cm 3764).

Reconviction rates for community sentences are most commonly quoted in terms of a period following commencement of the order. The most recently available rates for a period following completion of a community sentence (probation or community service) relate to a sample of offenders whose orders commenced in 1987. Completion of an order does not imply completion without reoffending and a proportion of those completing orders will be reconvicted on or before the termination date. The overall reconviction rate within two years of completion for the sample was 50 per cent. (if reconvictions on the termination date are included) but falls to 45 per cent. if reconvictions on the termination date are excluded. The respective rates at one year after completion are 39 and 30 per cent.

Figures in respect of reconviction within two years of commencing an order are more up to date. The most recent available information relates to a sample of offenders who commenced probation, community service or combination orders during the first quarter of 1995, of which 42 per cent. had been reconvicted one year after commencement and 56 per cent. after two years.

The methodology used to produce the rates for custody was published in 'Reconvictions of prisoners discharged from prison in 1993, England and Wales' (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 5/97) and for community sentences in 'Reconvictions of those commencing community penalties in 1993, England and Wales' (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 6/97). Copies are in the Library.

The most recent information available on the reoffending of young offenders leaving custody relates to reconviction rates within two years of discharge from Prison Service Establishments:

Reconviction rates for standard list offences, within two years of discharge, for young offenders discharged from Prison Service establishments in England and Wales
Period of discharge Reconvicted
1992 71
1993 74
1994 75
1st quarter of 19951 75
1The coverage of standard list offences increased in July 1995 and January 1996. These changes had the effect of increasing the reconviction rate for young offenders discharged in the first quarter of 1995 from 74 per cent. to 75 per cent. to 75 per cent.

The most recent detailed analysis of reconviction results is contained in Home Office Research Study 136. This used a two year follow-up for reconviction rates and is based on samples of offenders released from prison or commencing orders in 1987. After taking account of the characteristics of offenders and pseudo-reconvictions the authors concluded: The key finding of this study—in common with previous studies—is that there was little difference between actual and predicted reconviction rates, suggesting that sentence on its own did not have a major impact upon the likelihood of reconviction. We found no clear evidence to suggest that custody outperformed community penalties or vice versa in preventing reoffending".

Their results are broadly in line with those obtained from more recent samples of offenders described above. Some limited comparisons of those fined or conditionally discharged in 1993 have been made with rates for other disposals. A summary of results was presented to the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into alternatives to prison sentences.

Research on the relationships between social factors and reconviction rates for those given community sentences is currently underway.