27/11/2012

Longer Sentences Given For Serious Crimes

Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has welcomed new figures which show the courts are taking tougher action against offenders who do the most harm to our communities.

Today’s criminal proceedings statistics show average prison sentences in Scotland are at their highest in a decade – reflecting the most serious crimes are being punished with long sentences, while community payback orders see low level offenders repay their dues to our communities.

The figures also show that the average sentence for those convicted of handling an offensive weapon has increased for the seventh year in a row, and is now almost three times higher than a decade ago.

Mr MacAskill said: "This Government is working hard to ensure that Scotland is a safe place to live. Recorded crime at its lowest level for 37 years, supported by the work of more than 1,000 extra police officers in communities.

"These figures today demonstrate the role our courts play in serving our communities by punishing the most serious offenders with lengthy prison sentences. It is clear those responsible for serious crimes are being dealt with robustly by our legal system.

"Crimes involving offensive weapons, such as knives, bring misery upon our communities. For the seventh consecutive year, the courts have handed out tougher sentences, with the average sentence length for handling an offensive weapon 23 days longer than last year and the highest in a decade. The average sentence length is now 311 days, compared to 112 ten years ago.

"While crimes of handling an offensive weapon have fallen by 44 per cent since 2006/7, crimes of these nature remain a serious issue of concern. That’s why I announced yesterday that I plan to introduce legislation that will increase the maximum penalty for carrying a knife from four to five years imprisonment."

(GK)

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