Research by the Howard League for Penal Reform has revealed this week that magistrates’ courts in Notts are sending more people to jail than elsewhere in the UK.
Its statistics show that courts in Notts imposed prison sentences in 4.5 per cent of the cases they heard in 2011 - more often that areas such as Warwickshire, 1.5 per cent, and Northumbria, 1.6 per cent. The national average was 3.8 per cent.
The charity says that magistrates should consider handing out community sentences rather than short-term prison sentences.
Frances Crook, the charity’s chief executive, said: “It is pleasing to see that magistrates’ courts are sending fewer people to prison overall than they have in the past. However, one cannot ignore the striking disparity in sentencing trends between different criminal justice areas.”
“A short-term prison sentence is a catastrophe for everyone. It does not help change the life of the person sentenced - indeed, it is likely to compound issues such as drug addiction and make them more likely to reoffend. It costs the taxpayer a fortune and it does nothing to help victims, who get no recompense or easing of trauma.”
“A court which imposes short prison sentences increases the likelihood of local people becoming victims of crime, because the failure rate is so high.”
“Community sentences are much cheaper than custody and they deliver better results. They not only address a person’s offending, but allow them to access other services they need, such as help with drink, drugs or mental health problems.”
The maximum sentence that a magistrates’ court can impose is a six-month prison term, or up to 12 months in total for more than one offence.