Criminals not sent to jail is "shocking"

Shipley MP Philip Davies has condemned what he called"soft sentences" after it was revealed sex offenders and benefit fraudsters with lengthy criminal records were being spared jail.

An answer to a Parliamentary question submitted by the MP revealed two sexual offenders with criminal histories spanning 30 years were not sent to jail for failing to comply with the sex offenders register.

One had 12 convictions for breaching the register and the other had ten - both had been jailed on a previous occasion.

And one offender who breached the register had 22 previous cautions and convictions for other offences and was not jailed, the answer revealed.

Figures released in response to another Parliamentary question revealed an offender who committed social security benefit fraud who had 12 previous convictions for the same offence, was not jailed.

The figures related to sentences handed down in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Mr Davies said: "Something I have been concerned about is people appear to be able to commit serious offences and be persistent offenders and still not be sent to prison. I do think this goes to show there are lots of soft sentences.

"People are going out, working their socks off and the last thing they want is to see their taxes going on someone who is fiddling the system."

He added: "It shows this idea we send too many people to prison is a complete myth.

People who are failing to comply with requirements of the sex offenders register - for someone to do that ten times and also have 22 other convictions - for that person not to be sent to prison, most people will find staggering, it is absolutely shocking."

He said there was"no excuse" for persistent offenders committing serious crimes not to be sent to prison.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Sexual offences are devastating for victims and tough penalties are available to the courts to bring offenders to justice, including sentences of up to life in prison for the most serious crimes.

The latest statistics show that both the number of convictions for sexual offences and the average length of sentences handed down have increased significantly in the past year, and substantially over the past ten years.

Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for independent judges, who make their decisions on the full facts of each case."