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Criminal Law: Majority of rioters had committed previous offences, MoJ reveals

The Ministry of Justice today published information on the rioters brought before the courts for the public disorder that occurred between the 6th and 9th August 2011.

The data include statistics on those people's previous offences, the average custodial sentences compared to those given for similar offences in the past and the number of people still currently held in custody.

Of all those who appeared before the courts for offences related to the riots, 73% already had caution or conviction issued to them in the past. Divided into age groups, 77% of the adults had previous offences compared to 55% of the youths.

In total, out of adults and youths, men and women, over a quarter of all the rioters had committed more than ten offences in the past.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said that the statistics "confirm that existing criminals were on the rampage."

He added: "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.

"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."

Many people believe that rehabilitation is the key to prevent reoffending. As the works and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "You cannot just arrest your way out of this problem."

West Midlands police chief Chris Sims agrees. He said: "We need to find ways of actually sort of bettering the people that we punish.

"Every criminal justice intervention ought to have a forward look to it about future behaviour. It can't be enough to simply punish. Prisons are not just about punishment, they are about rehabilitation."

Related links:
Read more on the story (Huffington Post)
Find out how sentencing is worked out (FindLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)