‘Softer sentences’ being given to crooks

A police operation at Scarborough Railway Station
A police operation at Scarborough Railway Station

Crooks in Scarborough are escaping tough jail sentences, with police using ‘softer’ measures to tackle criminals committing serious crimes.

The latest figures published on the police.uk website show that between February 2012 and April 2013, less than 1 in 25 people dealt with by police in the Scarborough area ended up in prison.

In total, 156 people were jailed in the town – despite crimes carrying custodial sentences, such as burglary, robbery and drug use, being committed thousands of times throughout the borough.

North Yorkshire’s crime commissioner Julia Mulligan has told The Scarborough News she feels the figures are “worrying”, and has vowed to implement measures to make sure career criminals aren’t repeatedly let off the hook.

“It’s frustrating,” admitted Mrs Mulligan, who recently unveiled her crime map 
for the county.

“We as the police do the best that we can to prepare cases for the Crown Prosecution Service.

“There are some things that the police can do to improve though,” she said, adding that she plans on working closer with the service to improve the number of convictions.

Upon arrest and charge, the police put together a case to go before the service, who ultimately decide on whether or not the case should be tried in court before a judge or magistrate.

However, figures show that under half of all culprits arrested never face a judge – and just over 10 per cent of all crimes end up with a suspect in the 
dock.

While Mrs Mulligan praised the work of the judiciary, she admitted the public have an appetite to see justice carried out to those that have wronged society.

“There’s a very clear 
expectation from the public that if somebody does something wrong then they are punished,” she said.

“That’s why we want to make sure people’s voices are heard.”

Instead of jail terms, criminals are now often dealt with by the police, punished using methods such as cautions, community resolution orders or fixed penalty notices.

Mrs Mulligan said that there’s “quite a lot of evidence” to say these methods work as a deterrent.

But although North Yorkshire has one of the lowest caution rates nationally, there have been recent calls to clamp down on the number of them dished out, after it emerged that serious crimes, including a rape, had been dealt with by a caution.

And an investigation last week by The Scarborough News showed that hundreds of community resolution orders had been handed out in Scarborough – including one case in which two 12-year-old boys were issued them for attempting to sexually assault a teenage girl.

However, the commissioner said that “there’s a balancing act” in jailing youngsters who commit crimes – even serious ones.

She said that judges should be “very careful” about jailing youngsters, due to the increased likelihood of re-offending once they have been inside.

The figures, which are available to the public, show that police took no further action in over half of all the crimes reported last year.

The majority of crimes dealt with by police were anti-social behaviour, while one in 10 crimes were deemed ‘violent’.

North Yorkshire Police was unwilling to comment.