UK Riots: Quarter of all arrested had more than 10 previous convictions
Published 15/09/2011 | 11:32
One in four people charged over the riots that swept through English cities had committed more than 10 previous offences.
Three in four of those who appeared before the courts had a previous caution or conviction and one in 20 had more than 50 previous offences on their record, the Ministry of Justice figures showed.
The details were published as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the middle-classes ignored the plight of people living on run-down council estates for years and then paid the price when the inner city "came to call" in last month's violence and looting.
Two in three of those involved in the riots had a criminal record but had never been to jail, despite amassing an average of 15 previous offences each, the figures showed.
Of these previous offences, nine were for serious indictable offences while six were for less serious summary or breach offences.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said: "These figures confirm that existing criminals were on the rampage.
"I congratulate the courts for delivering swift and firm justice, which stopped the riots spreading further.
"I am dismayed to see a hardcore of repeat offenders back in the system.
"This reinforces my determination to introduce radical changes to ensure both effective punishment and reform to tackle reoffending."
He went on: "We are making our jails places of hard work, getting criminals off drugs and alcohol, toughening community sentences and making offenders pay back to victims and communities for their crimes."
The figures showed more than half of juveniles had committed one or more previous offences.
Of all offenders who had received a reprimand, warning, caution or sentence for an indictable offence last year, almost one in two had committed 10 or more previous offences.
But officials warned that those involved in the disorder were younger than those in the general population, "so there is an issue as to how much the age is affecting that comparison".
They added that, compared with the population as a whole, those involved in the riots were "much more likely to have had a conviction".
Four in 10 males aged 10-17 who were brought before the courts over the riots had at least one previous conviction, compared with one in 50 of those aged 10-17 in the general population.
But officials added that while those involved in the violence and looting were "much more likely than the population as a whole to have previous convictions, there is also evidence of some people being drawn into the criminal justice system for the first time".
Of the 16,598 previous offences committed by those accused of being involved in the riots, one in four was for theft and handling of stolen goods, one in 10 was for drugs offences and more than one in 20 were for violence against the person.
A total of 1,715 people had appeared before the courts by midday on Monday, with two in three of these being remanded in custody.
Some 315 have been sentenced so far, with more than one in two (176) jailed with an average sentence of 11.1 months.
New figures for the crown courts showed 79 jail sentences have been handed down so far, with nine in 10 of those appearing in crown courts being sent to prison, compared with one in three for similar offences last year.
For those dealt with in magistrates' courts, 97 have been sent to jail - four in 10 of those who have been sentenced - compared with one in 10 of those who appeared before magistrates for similar offences last year.
Overall, sentences were tougher, with those involved in the riots being jailed for an average of 10.4 months for violent disorder, compared with an average of 5.3 months last year.
For burglary, the average for those involved in the riots was 14.1 months, compared with 8.8 months last year.