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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Concerns over Probation Service sentence evasion

Plaid Cymru’s Penri James has expressed concern that criminals in Ceredigion might be getting away with not serving their community service orders.

Data obtained by the Plaid Cymru Westminster candidate under the Freedom of Information Act shows that there were 276 Community Payback or Community Service Orders issued in Ceredigion between 2006 and 2009. However, only three breaches of these orders were recorded during the same period.

This is substantially lower than the data for neighbouring counties. During the same period, 950 orders were issued in Carmarthenshire, 468 in Pembrokeshire and 615 in Powys. These counties experienced 285, 58 and 254 breaches respectively.

Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:

“I find it difficult to believe that there were only three breaches to Community Service Orders recorded in Ceredigion during the last three years. Evidence from neighbouring counties suggests that this number should be much larger.

“These figures indicate that either we have very well behaved criminals in Ceredigion or that they are getting away with not doing their sentences and that this evasion is not being recorded”.

These figures come as the UK Government is looking to cut £24m from the Probation Service’s budget.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader and MP for Meirionydd Nant Conwy, Elfyn Llwyd, secured a debate on the matter in Parliament.

Penri James further commented:

“The announced cuts to the Probation Service’s budget will inevitably make the situation in Ceredigion even worse. The courts are being encouraged to put in place structured and supervised community penalties, but what use is this if there isn’t enough staff to supervise these orders?

“These Community Service Orders are here for a reason – to ensure that offenders repay society for the distress that they have caused. At the moment, these penalties do not appear to be working in Ceredigion and I fear that budget cuts could make the situation much worse”.

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