3 Sentencing for all offences

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Sentencing legislation
3.3 Sentencing for all cases
3.4 Sentencing for violent offences
3.5 Sentencing for other offences against the person
3.6 Sentencing for property offences
3.7 Sentencing for drug offences
3.8 Sentencing for offences against the administration of justice
3.9 Sentencing for offences against good order
3.10 Sentencing for traffic offences
3.11 Sentencing for miscellaneous offences
3.12 Sentences imposed in each court in 2006 for all offences
3.13 Gender, age, and ethnicity of offenders
3.14 Summary of key findings

3.1 Introduction

This chapter examines patterns in sentencing for all cases resulting in a conviction over the period 1997–2006. The following types of sentence are examined:[9]

  • custodial sentences (life imprisonment, preventive detention, imprisonment, and corrective training)
  • community-based sentences (community work, periodic detention, community service, community programme, and supervision)
  • monetary penalties (fines and reparation)
  • deferred sentences (i.e. to come up for sentence if called upon and suspended prison sentences)
  • other sentences (e.g. a disqualification from driving or an order under section 34 of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 for treatment or care of the offender in a psychiatric hospital or secure facility)
  • conviction and discharge under section 20 of the Criminal Justice Act 1985 or section 108 of the Sentencing Act 2002.

The first part of this chapter will identify the major legislative changes that have affected the range and nature of sentencing options available during the last decade, before presenting information on the number and proportion of cases receiving each type of sentence. It will also explore changes in the average seriousness of convicted cases resulting in different sentence types.

The second part of this chapter will provide more detailed information about the sentencing structure for each of the main offence categories, including: violent offences, other offences against the person, property, drugs, offences against the administration of justice, offences against good order, traffic, and miscellaneous offences. For each of these offence categories the number and proportion of convicted cases resulting in different sentence types will be discussed, as well as the average length of custodial sentence imposed. These figures will also be provided for different offences within each category. A discussion of the average seriousness of cases resulting in each type of sentence will also be included for selected offence categories.

The final part of this chapter will present information on the gender, age, and ethnicity of offenders involved in convicted cases by each sentence type in 2006.

The information presented in this chapter is case-based. As outlined in Chapter 1, the system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This may cause changes in the figures and trends that were observed before 2003 and after 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be applied when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. For this reason, trends for the periods 1997 to 2003 and 2004 to 2006 will be analysed separately in this report.

For both LES and CMS data, where a case involved more than one charge, the charge taken to represent the case is the one that resulted in the most serious penalty. If two or more charges result in the same type and length or amount of penalty, then the charge taken to represent the case is the one where the type of offence committed has the highest seriousness score using the seriousness of offence scale described in Section 2.4.

This chapter only presents information on the most serious sentence imposed in a case. For example, if in a single case an offender was sentenced to community work and reparation for one charge and supervision for another charge, the offender would appear in the statistics in this chapter as having been sentenced to community work for that particular case, as this sentence has the highest ranking in terms of seriousness.[10] Selecting one sentence to represent a case in this manner means that the number of sentences for supervision, reparation, and driving disqualifications presented in this report will be an undercount, as these sentences are the ones most frequently combined with more serious sentences. Chapters 5 and 6 include information on the use of supervision, fines, and reparation with other sentences.

There are three situations in which the imposition of a sentence is not usually recorded in the data used for this report. The first is when offenders who default in the payment of their fine or reparation sentence have a sentence of community work or, in limited circumstances, imprisonment substituted by a judge.[11] The second is when offenders sentenced to a community-based sentence have their sentence reviewed, sometimes resulting in some other sentence being imposed. The third, which only arose prior to the introduction of the Sentencing Act in 2002, is when offenders subject to a suspended sentence of imprisonment had the sentence activated because of a subsequent conviction.[12] Because the sentences imposed in these situations are not usually recorded in the data used for this report, the actual number of offenders awarded a custodial or community-based sentence in each year is likely to be greater than the figures shown in this report.

3.2 Sentencing legislation

During the last decade two pieces of legislation have significantly impacted on sentencing: the Sentencing Act 2002 and the Parole Act 2002. Collectively these Acts largely replaced the Criminal Justice Act 1985 and reformed New Zealand’s criminal justice law in four key areas:

  • general sentencing purposes and principles
  • the range of sentences and orders available to the courts
  • sentencing for murder and high risk offenders
  • parole and final release of offenders from prison.

The Sentencing Act 2002 made a number of changes to the sentences that were available under the Criminal Justice Act 1985. The sentences that were available under the Criminal Justice Act 1985 were:

  • life imprisonment—an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment that is almost solely imposed on offenders convicted of murder (i.e. the offender is subject to the sentence for their entire life, although they can be released on parole)
  • preventive detention—an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment that, before 2002, was generally only imposed on serious repeat sex offenders
  • determinate imprisonment—a sentence of imprisonment for a fixed term
  • corrective training—a three-month custodial sentence for offenders aged between 16 and 19 years involving hard physical work and strict discipline, followed by six months of supervision
  • suspended sentence of imprisonment—a determinate sentence of imprisonment of up to two years that was suspended unless the offender was reconvicted within a set period of time
  • periodic detention—a non-custodial sentence that involves the offender reporting to a work centre and undertaking community work projects
  • community service—a non-custodial sentence that involves the offender undertaking work for an approved community agency
  • community programme—a sentence (which may be residential) that involves placing the offender in the care of an approved organisation, group or individual
  • supervision—a sentence under which the offender is required to comply with various reporting, residential, association and other conditions
  • reparation—a sentence where financial payment is ordered to be made by the offender to the victim
  • fine—a sentence where financial payment is ordered to be made by the offender to the State; prior to 30 June 2002, the court could, in certain circumstances, order the full or part payment of a fine to the victim of offending
  • driving disqualification—a sentence where the offender must surrender his or her driver’s licence for a fixed term, or indefinitely
  • to come up for sentence if called on—an order whereby, if the offender is convicted of a subsequent offence within a fixed term, he or she may be sentenced for the original offence.

The major changes that the Sentencing Act 2002 made to these sentences were as follows.

  • A new sentence structure was created for people convicted of murder.[13]
  • Preventive detention became available for a wider range of offences and offenders. (Further details on the legislative changes made regarding preventive detention and sentencing for murder are presented in Section 4.1.)
  • Corrective training was abolished.
  • Suspended sentences of imprisonment were abolished.
  • A new sentence called community work replaced periodic detention and community service. Community work is aimed at compensating the community. The offender is placed at a community work centre, with another agency, or a combination of both of these.
  • Community programme was abolished.
  • Supervision was modified to include the care aspect of community programme.
  • The presumption in favour of reparation was strengthened, and the provision for the payment of fines to victims was removed.
  • A presumption in favour of fines was introduced (further details on the legislative changes made regarding fines and reparation are presented in Chapter 6).

While the Sentencing Act 2002 leaves judges with discretion when sentencing, the Act:

  • sets out the general purposes and principles of sentencing
  • lists aggravating and mitigating factors the court must take into account to the extent they are applicable to the case
  • specifies the purposes for which each kind of sentence can be imposed
  • requires judges to provide reasons, in open court, for the sentence or order given at a level of detail appropriate to the offence.

This report presents information on all of the sentences available under both the Criminal Justice Act 1985 and the Sentencing Act 2002. To make analysis easier, information is presented on the total number of ‘work-related’ community sentences imposed in each year in the decade. This is the total of periodic detention, community service, and community work sentences.

Since 1 October 1999, some offenders have been allowed to serve part of their prison sentences by way of home detention. There are two forms of home detention.[14] Front-end home detention is available to offenders sentenced to two years’ imprisonment or less who are granted leave to apply for home detention by the court. The New Zealand Parole Board determines whether offenders are allowed to serve their sentences on home detention. The courts cannot directly sentence offenders to home detention.[15]

Back-end home detention is available to offenders subject to long-term determinate sentences (more than two years). The New Zealand Parole Board may allow an offender to serve his or her sentence on home detention from any date that is three months before the offender’s parole eligibility date. Back-end home detention is not available to those sentenced to life imprisonment or preventive detention. As home detention is granted by the Parole Board and not by the courts, no information on home detention is provided in this report.

The monetary sentences considered in this report are fines[16] and reparation. Fines can be imposed for nearly every offence. Under the Sentencing Act 2002, reparation can be imposed if an offender has, through or by means of an offence, caused a person to suffer:

  • loss of or damage to property
  • emotional harm
  • loss or damage consequential on any emotional or physical harm or loss of, or damage to, property.

As noted above, suspended sentences of imprisonment were abolished from 30 June 2002 by the Sentencing Act 2002. From a legal point of view, suspended prison sentences would have fallen in the sentencing hierarchy between prison and periodic detention. However, research undertaken by the Ministry of Justice indicates that the majority of suspended sentences were imposed on offenders who would not have otherwise received a prison sentence (see Spier (1998) for further details). Suspended sentences have consequently been placed further down in the sentencing hierarchy in the deferred category together with orders to come up for sentence if called upon. This avoids misrepresenting the number of prison sentences that would have been imposed if the power to suspend prison sentences did not exist. For this reason, suspended sentences rarely show up as the most serious sentence imposed in the case-based data used in this report (for more detailed information on the use of such sentences in New Zealand see Spier (1998) chapters 8 and 9).

Although there were significant changes to the sentencing regime in New Zealand from 30 June 2002 when the Sentencing Act 2002 came into force, the full effects of these changes were not immediately apparent in the sentencing data due to the Act’s transitional provisions and its gradual implementation in practice.

3.3 Sentencing for all cases

This section presents information on sentencing for all convicted cases over the period 1997 to 2006. Tables 3.1 and 3.2 respectively show the number and percentage of cases resulting in each type of sentence for each calendar year from 1997 to 2006. Figure 3.1 graphs the information displayed in Table 3.2.

Table 3.1 shows that between 1997 and 2003, convicted cases fluctuated considerably ranging from around 94,000 to 100,000. Between 2004 and 2006, the number of convicted cases increased by 3%, from 109,017 to 112,774. Table 3.2 shows that, from 1997 to 2003, between 8% and 9% of convicted cases each year resulted in a custodial sentence. From 2004 to 2006, the proportion was between 9% and 10%. Chapter 4 provides a more detailed analysis of trends in custodial sentences and remands.

Table 3.1 Total number of convicted cases resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 20061,2

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Sentence type3 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 8102 8255 8177 7886 7805 7930 8497 10353 10553 10469
Community work4 - - - - - 12693 25073 24839 24998 27196
Periodic detention5 19510 21340 20481 18395 18461 8791 - - - -
Community service5 7812 8525 8226 7124 6764 3073 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related6 27322 29865 28707 25519 25225 24557 25073 24839 24998 27196
Community programme5 430 379 287 203 207 54 - - - -
Supervision 5037 5004 4550 4024 3367 2312 1894 2014 2347 2243
Monetary7 47515 47165 47326 47215 48028 48507 50733 52918 50650 53207
Deferment8 3233 3560 3502 3590 3606 3612 4134 4831 4916 5345
Other9 808 983 1116 1125 1135 1226 1295 1878 1897 2061
Conviction & discharge10 4068 4994 4982 5945 6233 6141 6960 12184 12573 12253
Total 96515 100205 98647 95507 95606 94339 98586 109017 107934 112774

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 Only the most serious sentence imposed is shown for cases where more than one sentence was imposed.

3 A dash (-) indicates that the sentence was not legislated for in that particular time period.

4 Community work was introduced from 30 June 2002 by the Sentencing Act 2002.

5 Sentence abolished from 30 June 2002 by the Sentencing Act 2002.

6 Subtotal of community work, periodic detention, and community service.

7 On this and subsequent tables, monetary penalties are fines and reparation.

8 To come up for sentence if called on or a suspended prison sentence. Suspended prison sentences were abolished from 30 June 2002 by the Sentencing Act 2002.

9 Mainly cases that resulted in disqualification from driving, or an order under section 34 of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 for treatment or care of the offender in a psychiatric hospital or secure facility. Deportation orders are also included in this category.

10 Conviction and discharge under section 20 of the Criminal Justice Act 1985, or section 108 of the Sentencing Act 2002.

Table 3.2 shows that the percentages of all convictions each year that resulted in the imposition of a work-related community sentence (community work, periodic detention, or community service) trended downwards from 1998 to 2003. The proportion ranged between 25% and 30% from 1997 to 2003, and was between 23% and 24% during the last three years of the period.

There was a downward trend in the use of supervision as the principal sentence of a case after 1999; a trend which began prior to the commencement of the Sentencing Act in 2002. More recent figures, however, have demonstrated an upward movement, with an 11% increase evident in supervision sentences between 2004 and 2006, from 2,014 to 2,243. Chapter 5 provides a more detailed analysis of community-based sentences.

The Sentencing Act 2002 contains a presumption in favour of fines that was not present in the Criminal Justice Act 1985.[17] The Sentencing Act strengthens the presumption in favour of reparation and more clearly states the circumstances when such a sentence will be appropriate. If a court considers that it would otherwise be appropriate to impose a sentence of reparation and a fine, but it appears to the court that the offender only has the means to pay one, the court must sentence the offender to make reparation.

Table 3.2 Percentage of convicted cases resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 8.4 8.2 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.4 8.6 9.5 9.8 9.3
Community work - - - - - 13.5 25.4 22.8 23.2 24.1
Periodic detention 20.2 21.3 20.8 19.3 19.3 9.3 - - - -
Community service 8.1 8.5 8.3 7.5 7.1 3.3 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 28.3 29.8 29.1 26.7 26.4 26.0 25.4 22.8 23.2 24.1
Community programme 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 - - - -
Supervision 5.2 5.0 4.6 4.2 3.5 2.5 1.9 1.8 2.2 2.0
Monetary 49.2 47.1 48.0 49.4 50.2 51.4 51.5 48.5 46.9 47.2
Deferment 3.3 3.6 3.6 3.8 3.8 3.8 4.2 4.4 4.6 4.7
Other 0.8 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.7 1.8 1.8
Conviction & discharge 4.2 5.0 5.1 6.2 6.5 6.5 7.1 11.2 11.6 10.9
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

During the decade, approximately half of all convicted cases each year resulted in a monetary penalty (in particular, fines) as the most serious sentence. This proportion remained relatively constant between 1997 and 2006. Chapter 6 will provide more detailed analysis on monetary penalties.

The proportion of convicted cases resulting in a deferred sentence (deferment) ranged from 3% to 4% between 1997 and 2003. In 2006, around 5% of convicted cases were deferred.

As shown in Table 3.2, between 1997 and 2003, around 1% of convicted cases resulted in ‘other’ sentences. As noted in Section 3.1, these sentences include an order under section 34 of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 for treatment or care of an offender in a psychiatric hospital or secure facility. From 2004 to 2006, the proportion of such sentences comprised around 2% of all convicted cases.

Figure 3.1 Percentage of convicted cases resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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After 1997 there was an increase in the number of cases where a person is convicted and discharged (i.e. convicted with no sentence being imposed). Between 1997 and 2003, the proportion ranged between 4% and 7%. During the 2004 to 2006 period, the proportion of cases resulting in conviction and discharge ranged between 11% and 12%.

Table 3.3 presents the average seriousness of cases that resulted in each sentence, and the average seriousness of all convicted cases. The seriousness scale used is described in Section 2.4. Between 1997 and 2003, the overall average seriousness of convicted cases ranged between 39 and 44. Between 2004 and 2006, the overall average scores stabilised between 37 and 38.

The average seriousness of offences resulting in a custodial sentence is considerably greater than for any other type of sentence (see Table 3.3). Between 1997 and 2003, the average seriousness of cases that resulted in a custodial sentence ranged between 265 and 283. From 2004 to 2006, the seriousness of cases resulting in a custodial sentence ranged between 245 and 249.

On average, monetary penalties are imposed for much less serious cases than custodial or community-based sentences. The average seriousness of the offences resulting in a monetary penalty as the most serious penalty has remained consistent over the decade, ranging between 4 and 6.

The average seriousness of cases resulting in a deferred sentence has demonstrated a downward trend. Between 1997 and 2003 the figures ranged from 14 to 24, before dropping to an average of 14 between 2004 and 2006. However, care should be exercised when interpreting changes in the average seriousness of cases resulting in deferred sentences. While seriousness is a relevant consideration, the outcome of such cases will generally be determined on the basis of factors relating to the offender, such as whether the offence was an out-of-character one-off incident. In such instances, the offender may be given a second chance.

Table 3.3 Average seriousness of cases resulting in each type of sentence, and average seriousness of all cases resulting in conviction, 1997 to 20061,2

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 281 272 267 274 265 283 281 245 247 249
Community work - - - - - 39 39 40 40 40
Periodic detention 49 47 48 50 45 47 - - - -
Community service 27 24 26 25 27 29 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 43 40 41 43 40 41 39 40 40 40
Community programme 106 98 103 91 97 96 - - - -
Supervision 71 67 64 71 74 73 59 57 51 48
Monetary 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 4
Deferment 24 21 21 20 19 17 14 15 12 14
Other 22 13 16 17 20 14 15 12 17 19
Conviction & discharge 8 7 7 6 7 6 6 5 5 6
Overall average 44 42 42 42 40 41 39 37 38 37

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The seriousness of offence scale was updated in 2005. The figures for each year in this table are calculated using the new scale, and may differ from figures in earlier publications in this series.

For information on the custodial sentences imposed by type of offence, see Tables 4.1 and 4.2. Table 4.3 shows trends in the length of the custodial sentences imposed over the decade.

3.4 Sentencing for violent offences

This section presents information on the sentencing of cases involving all violent offences as a group, as well as information on the use of custodial sentences for some individual violent offences.

Tables 3.4 and 3.5 respectively show the number and percentage of cases involving violent offences resulting in each sentence from 1997 to 2006. Figure 3.2 graphs the information displayed in Table 3.5.

Between 1997 and 2003, around 21% to 23% of convicted cases involving violent offences resulted in custodial sentences. During the 2004 and 2006 period, the figures ranged from around 24% to 25% (see Table 3.5).

Table 3.5 shows that the proportion of convicted cases involving violent offences that resulted in work-related community sentences increased slightly over the decade. Between 1997 and 2003, the proportion ranged from 30% to 34%, with the figures remaining between 32% and 33% from 2004 to 2006.

The use of supervision as the most serious sentence for cases involving violent offences declined by 62% between 1997 and 2003 (from 1,829 to 689). Between 2004 and 2006, the number of supervision sentences imposed for cases involving violent offences rose by 25%, from 699 in 2004 to 872 in 2006 (see Table 3.4).

Table 3.4 Number of convicted cases involving violent offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

 

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 2230 2225 2180 2116 2115 2082 2268 2512 2632 2705
Community work - - - - - 1604 3350 3275 3653 3717
Periodic detention 2593 2763 2630 2583 2436 1261 - - - -
Community service 617 609 655 563 601 267 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 3210 3372 3285 3146 3037 3132 3350 3275 3653 3717
Community programme 134 116 85 56 71 20 - - - -
Supervision 1829 1770 1663 1388 1184 878 689 699 975 872
Monetary 2159 2074 1887 2022 2085 2064 2054 2226 2211 1950
Deferment 855 890 804 801 855 845 1036 1146 1244 1471
Other 31 31 45 29 53 39 40 37 42 53
Conviction & discharge 233 261 274 280 307 343 318 379 366 363
Total 10681 10739 10223 9838 9707 9403 9755 10274 11123 11131

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.5 Percentage of convicted cases involving violent offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 20.9 20.7 21.3 21.5 21.8 22.1 23.2 24.5 23.7 24.3
Community work - - - - - 17.1 34.3 31.9 32.8 33.4
Periodic detention 24.3 25.7 25.7 26.3 25.1 13.4 - - - -
Community service 5.8 5.7 6.4 5.7 6.2 2.8 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 30.1 31.4 32.1 32.0 31.3 33.3 34.3 31.9 32.8 33.4
Community programme 1.3 1.1 0.8 0.6 0.7 0.2 - - - -
Supervision 17.1 16.5 16.3 14.1 12.2 9.3 7.1 6.8 8.8 7.8
Monetary 20.2 19.3 18.5 20.6 21.5 22.0 21.1 21.7 19.9 17.5
Deferment 8.0 8.3 7.9 8.1 8.8 9.0 10.6 11.2 11.2 13.2
Other 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.5
Conviction & discharge 2.2 2.4 2.7 2.8 3.2 3.6 3.3 3.7 3.3 3.3
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Figure 3.2 Percentage of convicted cases involving violent offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Table 3.6 shows the number of convicted cases involving violent offences at each level of offence seriousness and the average seriousness of violent offences for each year from 1997 to 2006. The seriousness score groupings in the table have little inherent meaning, but are a useful way of categorising offences—see Section 2.4 for a description of the way these seriousness scores are calculated.

Table 3.6 Number of convicted cases involving violent offences with each level of offence seriousness and average seriousness of violent offences, 1997 to 20061,2

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Seriousness score 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
0-1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0
>1-10 4609 4718 4544 4377 4337 4279 4277 4516 4751 4719
>10-50 2920 2773 2620 2496 2541 2238 2377 2586 2969 2941
>50-100 873 960 922 930 884 919 1005 968 1041 997
>100-500 976 1025 952 957 918 972 996 1117 1224 1326
>500 1302 1263 1184 1078 1026 995 1099 1086 1138 1148
Overall average 212 204 201 195 189 198 201 191 185 190

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The seriousness of offence scale was updated in 2005. The figures for each year in this table are calculated using the new scale, and may differ from figures in earlier publications in this series.

The average seriousness of violent offences shows a downward trend over the decade. Between 1997 and 2003, the average seriousness scores fluctuated between 189 and 212. From 2004 to 2006, the average seriousness score for violent offences was 189. The most significant factor in the drop in overall average seriousness score was the reduction in the number of violent cases with seriousness scores over 500.

Figure 3.3 shows that between 1998 and 2001, although the average seriousness of violent offences declined, the courts imposed sentences of imprisonment in an increasing proportion of violent cases. However, this does not necessarily mean that sentencing has become more punitive. The change could be due to other factors, such as changes in the criminal histories (including previous compliance with non-custodial sentences) of defendants coming before the courts. From 2004 to 2006, the proportion of convicted cases resulting in imprisonment followed the same trend as the average seriousness of violent offences.

Figure 3.3 Percentage of violent offence cases resulting in a custodial sentence, and average seriousness of violent offences resulting in conviction, 1997 to 2006

fig-33.jpg

Table 3.7 shows the actual number of convicted cases by violent offence type. Tables 3.8 and 3.9 show the trends in custodial sentences imposed for different types of violent offences. As Table 3.7 demonstrates, the annual conviction figures for manslaughter, attempted murder, and attempted sexual violation cases are relatively small; caution should therefore be exercised when interpreting proportions calculated for these offences.

Between 1997 and 2003, the number of cases involving violent offences declined by 9%, from 10,681 in 1997 to 9,755 in 2003. The figures increased by 8% between 2004 and 2006 (an increase of 857 cases). In 2006, 85% of the convictions for violent cases involved physical assaults, with serious assaults, male assaults female, and minor assaults accounting for 27%, 24%, and 22% of all convicted violent offence cases respectively.

Table 3.8 shows that the most serious violent offences (those involving homicide or sexual violation) almost always result in a custodial sentence, as do the majority of other serious offences such as aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping or abduction.

For the most serious category of non-sexual assaults—grievous assault— between 41% and 51% of convictions resulted in a custodial sentence between 1997 and 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the proportion of such cases resulting in imprisonment increased from 49% to 54%.

Table 3.7 Number of convicted cases involving violent offences by offence type, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Murder 37 24 23 29 19 28 21 23 20 26
Manslaughter 26 43 27 18 30 29 32 50 16 25
Attempted murder 15 4 6 7 10 13 3 10 4 4
Kidnapping/abduction 59 66 35 40 55 50 68 50 45 69
Rape 128 130 116 94 106 102 121 96 114 116
Unlawful sexual connection 116 119 123 116 129 112 127 112 129 110
Attempted sexual violation 32 21 27 25 19 12 18 18 18 20
Indecent assault 331 304 298 273 245 299 266 258 284 264
Aggravated burglary 52 44 41 39 46 36 42 65 68 41
Aggravated robbery 389 401 395 336 267 250 275 256 326 317
Robbery 198 189 177 138 120 126 144 148 185 197
Grievous assault 936 1033 979 998 964 1004 1052 1098 1197 1216
Serious assault 2118 2242 2216 2321 2369 2339 2409 2661 2899 2989
Male assaults female 2646 2502 2331 2236 2257 1969 2116 2281 2663 2651
Assault on a child 207 197 214 185 207 195 172 220 200 171
Minor assault 2934 2951 2753 2534 2417 2360 2346 2426 2469 2402
Threaten to kill/do GBH 370 388 382 379 363 391 446 437 401 409
Cruelty to a child 6 9 21 11 18 12 15 13 13 13
Other violence 81 72 59 59 66 76 82 52 72 91
Total 10681 10739 10223 9838 9707 9403 9755 10274 11123 11131

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.8 Percentage of convicted cases resulting in a custodial sentence, by violent offence type, 1997 to 20061,2

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Murder 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 96
Manslaughter 92 86 89 89 97 93 100 98 100 100
Attempted murder 93 - 67* 100* 90 100 - 100 - -
Kidnapping/abduction 76 85 60 73 76 72 78 80 89 83
Rape 95 98 97 97 97 100 98 99 100 98
Unlawful sexual connection 80 91 89 90 88 96 97 96 95 95
Attempted sexual violation 88 95 85 96 89 75 94 89 100 95
Indecent assault 42 38 42 46 49 47 56 59 52 56
Aggravated burglary 54 70 78 85 76 78 64 86 94 83
Aggravated robbery 78 77 79 85 83 83 95 93 91 91
Robbery 67 57 61 64 61 67 76 74 66 61
Grievous assault 43 41 45 43 45 51 51 53 49 54
Serious assault 13 12 14 14 14 13 13 15 14 15
Male assaults female 13 14 13 14 15 12 12 16 15 15
Assault on a child 12 13 7 16 14 18 9 19 11 12
Minor assault 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4
Threaten to kill/do GBH 20 19 24 25 23 24 22 25 25 25
Cruelty to a child 33* 56* 24 73 56 58 53 38 46 31
Other violence 47 53 41 37 53 57 56 48 46 66
Overall 21 21 21 22 22 22 23 24 24 24

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The percentage of cases resulting in a custodial sentence is not shown where less than five cases resulted in conviction. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in conviction, the percentage shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

Table 3.9 shows the average length (in months) of custodial sentences imposed for each type of violent offence, as well as the average length of custodial sentences for all violent offences. Between 1997 and 2003, the average length of imprisonment imposed for violent offences increased by 4% from 28 months to 29 months. Between 2004 and 2006, the average length of custodial sentence imposed for violent offences was 26 months.

Table 3.9 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of violent offence, 1997 to 20061,2,3,4

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Manslaughter 63.1 59.8 71.4 63.8 70.1 70.6 68.3 66.8 71.4 62.2
Attempted murder 83.6 - - 102.0* 94.7* 73.8 - 103.5 - -
Kidnapping/abduction 36.1 39.5 29.3 36.2 31.7 43.3 32.9 30.8 35.2 36.4
Rape 86.9 96.3 97.6 95.9 92.7 99.9 106.9 99.0 98.8 104.9
Unlawful sexual connection 52.6 51.5 62.6 62.1 61.7 54.5 50.7 63.4 54.8 55.0
Attempted sexual violation 61.0 47.1 49.2 43.4 55.0 57.3* 62.5 44.1 52.8 50.6
Indecent assault 19.9 20.4 21.6 20.7 22.8 19.7 18.9 23.3 18.0 19.2
Aggravated burglary 30.5 33.5 26.5 42.1 52.0 40.1 28.5 33.0 39.2 33.1
Aggravated robbery 39.8 40.1 44.6 41.4 41.7 44.3 43.3 37.0 37.1 36.8
Robbery 20.4 22.9 22.2 21.4 24.1 19.1 23.1 20.2 22.4 19.7
Grievous assault 21.8 22.9 22.0 25.6 23.6 25.4 23.7 23.9 23.9 24.7
Serious assault 7.9 7.2 7.2 7.5 7.3 7.9 8.1 7.8 6.6 7.3
Male assaults female 6.6 6.6 6.7 7.3 6.7 7.3 7.1 6.6 6.2 6.2
Assault on a child 5.5 6.9 8.5 7.6 6.0 8.4 9.5 8.3 6.4 7.0
Minor assault 2.4 2.2 2.3 2.0 2.3 2.1 3.1 1.6 2.1 1.9
Threaten to kill/do GBH 9.4 7.0 8.4 8.5 7.8 9.2 10.0 8.5 7.0 7.9
Cruelty to a child - 12.2* 15.0* 17.0* 11.6 19.3* 15.8* 20.6* 17.7* -
Other violence 22.0 19.7 17.6 20.6 17.4 18.5 15.7 22.0 15.9 13.5
Overall average 27.9 27.7 28.2 28.3 27.2 29.3 29.1 26.2 25.4 25.8

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 No information is shown for murder because prior to the Sentencing Act 2002 coming into force on 30 June 2002, life imprisonment was the mandatory sentence for this offence, and is still the most common sentence.

3 The average custodial sentence length is not shown where less than five cases resulted in a custodial sentence. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in a custodial sentence, the figure shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases. .

4 The average length of custodial sentences is calculated using all custodial sentences, including preventive detention and life imprisonment. Although preventive detention and life imprisonment are of an indefinite length, a value of 1.5 times the non-parole period imposed has been used in calculations as the approximate equivalent finite sentence. For example, for a preventive detention sentence with a non-parole period of 12 years, this would be included in calculations as a finite sentence of 18 years. This is a different methodology to that used prior to 2003, and while it is applied to all indeterminate sentences included in the data used for this report, some figures in this table cannot be compared to figures in earlier reports in the series.

The average custodial sentence length for murder is not shown in Table 3.9 because prior to the Sentencing Act 2002 the mandatory sentence for murder was life imprisonment.  However, sentences for murder are included in the overall average figure.  Life imprisonment is now the presumptive, but not mandatory, sentence for murder.  Section 102(1) of the Sentencing Act 2002 states: ‘An offender who is convicted of murder must be sentenced to imprisonment for life unless, given the circumstances of the offence and the offender, a sentence of imprisonment for life would be manifestly unjust’. Since 30 June 2002, only three determinate sentences of imprisonment have been imposed on an offender convicted of murder; two of these cases had a life sentence substituted on appeal.

In July 1999, the Crimes Act 1961 was amended, by increasing the maximum penalties for a number of serious violent and sexual offences by three or five years if the offence involved ‘home invasion’. All of the categories in Table 3.9, except serious assault, male assaults female, assault on a child, minor assault, and cruelty to a child were affected by this legislative change. Because the maximum penalty for manslaughter was already life imprisonment (although that sentence was rarely imposed), the legislative change meant that the courts were justified in imposing a longer determinant sentence than would otherwise have been appropriate in cases involving home invasion. Life imprisonment was mandatory for murder, but if a murder involved a home invasion the mandatory minimum non-parole period became at least 13 years, rather than the standard 10 years.

The higher maximum penalties for home invasion offences were repealed by the Sentencing Act 2002. Instead, it became an aggravating factor in sentencing if an offence involved ‘unlawful presences in a dwelling place’. In addition, the Sentencing Act 2002 introduced a presumption in favour of imposing a minimum non-parole period of at least 17 years on a life sentence for murder if it involved the ‘unlawful entry into, or unlawful presence in, a dwelling place’, unless the court was satisfied that this would be ‘manifestly unjust’.

The average length of imprisonment imposed for rape increased by 23% from 87 months in 1997 to 107 months in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, this increased by a further 6%, from 99 months to 105 months.

3.5 Sentencing for other offences against the person

This section presents information on the sentencing of all offences against the person other than violent offences, and gives further information on the use of custodial sentences for some of the individual offence types included in this category.

Tables 3.10 and 3.11 respectively show the number and percentage of cases involving other offences against the person resulting in each type of sentence from 1997 to 2006. Table 3.10 shows that the number of cases involving non-violent offences against the person resulting in a custodial sentence ranged from 94 to 124 between 1997 and 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the figures increased from 127 to 146.

Table 3.11 shows that the proportion of cases resulting in a custodial sentence for a non-violent offence against the person decreased from 8% in 1997 to 7% in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006 the proportion increased from 7% to 8%. From 1997 to 2003, the proportion of cases resulting in a work-related community sentence fluctuated between 18% and 24%. Between 2004 and 2006, the figures ranged from 19% to 22%.

Both tables show that the use of supervision for other offences against the person generally declined between 1997 and 2003. From 2004 to 2006, the number of other offences against the person resulting in supervision increased from 49 cases to 72 cases.

Table 3.10 Number of convicted cases involving other offences against the person resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 108 113 94 103 109 115 124 127 135 146
Community work - - - - - 170 348 331 358 392
Periodic detention 260 290 271 212 236 116 - - - -
Community service 75 83 85 61 73 42 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 335 373 356 273 309 328 348 331 358 392
Community programme 7 3 5 3 0 0 - - - -
Supervision 113 116 106 103 106 64 61 49 72 72
Monetary 562 579 571 626 617 650 711 715 632 632
Deferment 172 185 166 193 184 195 253 283 314 336
Other 1 0 4 2 5 4 7 9 4 1
Conviction & discharge 127 196 161 213 192 227 193 273 280 235
Total 1425 1565 1463 1516 1522 1583 1697 1787 1795 1814

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, extreme caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.11 Percentage of convicted cases involving other offences against the person resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 7.6 7.2 6.4 6.8 7.2 7.3 7.3 7.1 7.5 8.0
Community work - - - - - 10.7 20.5 18.5 19.9 21.6
Periodic detention 18.2 18.5 18.5 14.0 15.5 7.3 - - - -
Community service 5.3 5.3 5.8 4.0 4.8 2.7 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 23.5 23.8 24.3 18.0 20.3 20.7 20.5 18.5 19.9 21.6
Community programme 0.5 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.0 0.0 - - - -
Supervision 7.9 7.4 7.2 6.8 7.0 4.0 3.6 2.7 4.0 4.0
Monetary 39.4 37.0 39.0 41.3 40.5 41.1 41.9 40.0 35.2 34.8
Deferment 12.1 11.8 11.3 12.7 12.1 12.3 14.9 15.8 17.5 18.5
Other 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1
Conviction & discharge 8.9 12.5 11.0 14.1 12.6 14.3 11.4 15.3 15.6 13.0
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

The use of deferred sentences for other offences against the person increased by 42% between 1997 and 2003. Deferred sentences comprised an increasing proportion of all conviction outcomes for this offence category between 2004 and 2006, rising from 16% to 19%. The proportion of other offences against the person resulting in a conviction and discharge increased from 9% in 1997 to 14% in 2002. In 2004 and 2005, over 15% of these cases resulted in a conviction and discharge, dropping to 13% in 2006.

Table 3.12 shows the number of convicted cases involving other offences against the person by offence type. Tables 3.13 and 3.14 show the proportion of these cases resulting in a custodial sentence, and the average sentence length imposed.

The number of offences involving obstructing or resisting a Police officer or other official increased over the decade, but decreased as a proportion of all other offences against the person. The proportion declined from 60% in 1997 to 53% in 2003, and ranged from 51% to 54% between 2004 and 2007.

Table 3.12 Number of convicted cases involving other offences against the person by offence type, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Non-violent sexual 240 225 200 215 210 195 208 183 228 209
Obstruct/resist 856 938 822 861 819 892 903 963 907 962
Intimidation 207 241 270 280 316 316 368 450 510 499
Other against persons 122 161 171 160 177 180 218 191 150 144
Total 1425 1565 1463 1516 1522 1583 1697 1787 1795 1814

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.13 Percentage of convicted cases involving other offences against the person resulting in a custodial sentence, by offence type, 1997 to 20061

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Non-violent sexual 25 28 27 29 30 35 38 39 36 44
Obstruct/resist 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 1
Intimidation 5 6 4 3 3 3 3 2 5 5
Other against persons 15 10 12 13 12 14 12 16 14 13
Overall 8 7 6 7 7 7 7 7 8 8

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The percentage of cases resulting in a custodial sentence is not shown where less than five cases resulted in conviction. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in conviction, the percentage shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

The proportion of convicted cases for non-violent sexual offences resulting in a custodial sentence showed an upward trend between 1997 and 2003 (25% in 1997 to 38% in 2003). Between 2005 and 2006, the proportion of such cases resulting in imprisonment increased from 36% to 44%.

From 1997 to 2003, the proportion of intimidation offences (excluding those involving threats to kill or do grievous bodily harm) that resulted in a custodial sentence declined from 5% to 3%. The figure was 2% in 2004, increasing to 5% in 2005 and 2006.

Table 3.14 shows that the average length of the custodial sentences imposed for ‘other offences against the person’ fluctuated over the decade. The overall average length of the custodial sentences imposed fluctuated between 1997 and 2003 (ranging from 11 to 18 months). From 2004 to 2006, the figures fluctuated over a narrower range from 15 to 17 months.

Table 3.14 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of other offence against the person, 1997 to 20061,2,3

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Non-violent sexual 16.1 25.3 17.8 26.3 18.8 18.4 18.7 20.1 19.3 22.8
Obstruct/resist 1.4 1.7 1.0* 0.9 1.5 1.3 1.1* 1.3 1.2 1.3
Intimidation 1.9 3.2 2.7 2.3* 2.0 2.4 4.6 2.6 1.4 4.0
Other against persons 11.9 10.3 8.0 8.9 9.8 13.0 12.2 14.8 16.5 15.8
Overall average 11.2 16.5 12.3 18.2 13.2 14.1 14.9 15.2 14.5 17.1

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 Sentences of preventive detention have been included in the figures for non-violent sexual offences and the overall average. See the notes to Table 3.9 for further details on this.

3 The average custodial sentence length is not shown where less than five cases resulted in a custodial sentence. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in a custodial sentence, the figure shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

3.6 Sentencing for property offences

Tables 3.15 and 3.16 respectively show the number and percentage of cases involving property offences resulting in each sentence from 1997 to 2006.

Table 3.15 shows that the number of convicted cases involving property offences fluctuated throughout the decade. The number and proportion of convicted property cases resulting in a custodial sentence trended upward from 13% in 1997 to 15% in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the proportion of property cases resulting in imprisonment remained constant at 17%. 

The increasing trend may be partly due to the repeal of section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 1985. This section required that persons convicted of an offence against property punishable by imprisonment for a term of seven years or less should not serve a custodial sentence, unless there were special circumstances. It should be noted that offences with maximum penalties exceeding seven years’ imprisonment (e.g. burglary and arson) were exempt from this provision. This provision was repealed by the Sentencing Act 2002. Instead, the appropriateness of a custodial or community-based sentence is now governed by the purposes and general principles in Part 1 of the Sentencing Act 2002.

Table 3.15 Number of convicted cases involving property offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 2397 2429 2456 2460 2375 2450 2682 3243 3203 3146
Community work - - - - - 4028 7648 7383 6890 7365
Periodic detention 5365 5560 5570 5052 5279 2538 - - - -
Community service 2267 2535 2760 2538 2324 1067 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 7632 8095 8330 7590 7603 7633 7648 7383 6890 7365
Community programme 136 107 90 70 62 18 - - - -
Supervision 1380 1386 1200 1125 891 608 494 541 511 502
Monetary 5346 5294 5387 5559 5680 5511 5434 5938 5627 5794
Deferment 1012 1107 1088 1041 1090 1051 1050 1319 1293 1322
Other 20 22 19 26 32 30 22 20 47 25
Conviction & discharge 562 668 646 635 662 720 666 936 870 811
Total 18485 19108 19216 18506 18395 18021 17996 19380 18441 18965

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.16 Percentage of convicted cases involving property offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 13.0 12.7 12.8 13.3 12.9 13.6 14.9 16.7 17.4 16.6
Community work - - - - - 22.4 42.5 38.1 37.4 38.8
Periodic detention 29.0 29.1 29.0 27.3 28.7 14.1 - - - -
Community service 12.3 13.3 14.4 13.7 12.6 5.9 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 41.3 42.4 43.3 41.0 41.3 42.4 42.5 38.1 37.4 38.8
Community programme 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.1 - - - -
Supervision 7.5 7.3 6.2 6.1 4.8 3.4 2.7 2.8 2.8 2.6
Monetary 28.9 27.7 28.0 30.0 30.9 30.6 30.2 30.6 30.5 30.6
Deferment 5.5 5.8 5.7 5.6 5.9 5.8 5.8 6.8 7.0 7.0
Other 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.1
Conviction & discharge 3.0 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.6 4.0 3.7 4.8 4.7 4.3
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

The proportion of property offences resulting in a work-related community sentence fluctuated between 41% and 43% in the period from 1997 to 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the corresponding figure ranged from 37% to 39%.

The use of supervision for property offences declined throughout the decade, with the proportion falling from 8% in 1997 to 3% in 2003. From 2004 to 2006, the proportion of property offences resulting in supervision remained at around 3%.

The number of cases involving property offences at each level of offence seriousness and the average seriousness of property offences are presented in Table 3.17.[18] The overall average seriousness of property offences resulting in a conviction declined from 60 in 1997 to 52 in 2003. The average seriousness scores climbed slightly between 2004 and 2006, from 54 to 56.

Table 3.17 Number of convicted cases involving property offences with each level of offence seriousness and average seriousness of property offences, 1997 to 20061,2

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Seriousness score 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
0-1 2187 2290 2178 2267 2288 2343 2411 2781 2792 3042
>1-10 4877 5658 6428 6159 6373 6123 5899 6639 6287 6208
>10-50 3769 3700 3544 3366 3287 3331 3420 2702 2397 2481
>50-100 3628 3566 3420 3130 3125 3040 3099 3470 3311 3432
>100-500 4022 3887 3642 3572 3310 3173 3162 3784 3633 3788
>500 2 7 4 12 12 11 5 4 21 14
Overall average 60 58 54 55 52 52 52 54 55 56

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The seriousness of offence scale was updated in 2005. The figures for each year in this table are calculated using the new scale, and may differ from figures in earlier publications in this series.

Table 3.18 shows the number of convicted property cases by offence type. It shows that convictions for cases involving property offences increased from 1997 to 1999, before trending downwards until 2003. The figures fluctuated around an average of 18,929 between 2004 and 2006. From 1997 to 2003, theft comprised 32% to 35% of all convicted cases involving property offences. The trend continued from 2004 to 2006, with the proportion of cases involving theft ranging from 35% to 37%.

Table 3.18 Number of convicted cases involving each property offence, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Burglary 3412 3259 3111 3080 2836 2763 2737 3218 3092 3266
Theft 5842 6071 6302 6111 6525 6252 6255 6839 6828 6881
Receiving stolen goods 1373 1406 1396 1285 1236 1078 1141 1256 1144 1229
Motor vehicle conversion 1190 1172 1097 940 934 918 958 978 947 922
Fraud 2860 2928 2763 2564 2448 2380 2244 2179 1883 1905
Arson 139 174 130 124 151 128 144 146 145 146
Wilful damage 2235 2386 2261 2346 2399 2476 2544 2856 2911 3169
Other property 1434 1712 2156 2056 1866 2026 1973 1908 1491 1447
Total 18485 19108 19216 18506 18395 18021 17996 19380 18441 18965

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Figure 3.4 graphs the percentage of property offence cases resulting in a custodial sentence and the average seriousness of property offences resulting in conviction. As Figure 3.4 demonstrates, the increased use of custodial sentences has corresponded with a general decrease in the seriousness of property offences resulting in a conviction in recent years. However, as noted in the case of violent offences, this does not necessarily indicate that sentencing has become more punitive as the increase in the number of custodial sentences imposed for property offences may be attributable to other factors not included in the data (for example, the defendant’s criminal history, including breaches on non-custodial sentence conditions etc.)

Figure 3.4 Percentage of property offence cases resulting in a custodial sentence, and average seriousness of property offences resulting in conviction, 1997 to 2006

fig-34.jpg

Tables 3.19 and 3.20 present information on the custodial sentencing of property offences. As noted earlier, burglary and arson were two property offences that section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 1985 did not apply to. Table 3.19 shows that the proportion of cases involving burglary offences resulting in a custodial sentence gradually increased between 1997 and 2003. The proportion ranged from 44% to 47% between 2004 and 2006.

Given that arson offences can involve a wide range of seriousness in terms of damage to property and danger to life, it is not surprising that the proportion of arson cases resulting in a custodial sentence fluctuated between 39% and 57% from 1997 to 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the figures ranged between 51% and 56%.

Table 3.19 Percentage of convicted cases involving property offence resulting in a custodial sentence by offence type, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Burglary 34 35 37 38 39 41 43 46 47 44
Theft 5 6 6 6 5 6 6 7 7 6
Receiving stolen goods 9 10 11 10 10 11 15 16 19 17
Motor vehicle conversion 20 22 24 23 24 25 26 30 28 34
Fraud 12 10 11 13 15 16 20 21 23 22
Arson 44 39 52 42 50 57 41 56 51 52
Wilful damage 3 2 1 1 1 2 1 2 2 1
Other property 8 7 6 8 6 6 8 10 15 14
Overall 13 13 13 13 13 14 15 17 17 17

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

The proportion of burglary and arson cases is substantially higher than for other property offence types. The proportion of motor vehicle conversion offences receiving custodial sentences showed an upward movement from 1997 to 2003 (20% to 26%). Between 2004 and 2005, the proportion declined from 30% to 28%, while 34% of motor vehicle conversion cases resulted in a custodial sentence in 2006.

From 1997 to 2000, 10% to 13% of convicted cases for fraud resulted in a custodial sentence. The proportion climbed from 15% in 2001 to 20% in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, 21% to 23% of convicted fraud cases resulted in a custodial sentence.

Table 3.20 shows that the average length of the custodial sentences imposed for property offences increased by three months between 1997 and 2002 (from almost 10 months to 13 months). The average sentence length remained around 11 to 12 months between 2004 and 2006.

Between 1997 and 2003, with the exception of 1998, the average length of imprisonment for arson offences was around 24 months. From 2004 to 2006, the average length was between 22 and 23 months.

The custodial sentences imposed for fraud offences generally increased in length from 1997 to 2003 (from 9 months to 12 and a half months). The figures ranged from 12 to 13 months between 2004 and 2006.

Table 3.20 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of property offence, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Burglary 12.0 12.0 12.8 14.0 14.0 15.7 15.6 15.2 14.5 14.8
Theft 6.2 7.1 7.4 5.7 6.5 7.3 7.8 5.4 5.7 5.6
Receiving stolen goods 6.4 6.6 5.5 7.6 7.1 8.1 7.5 7.5 7.3 6.3
Motor vehicle conversion 6.5 6.4 7.7 7.5 8.0 8.5 9.4 8.5 8.8 8.6
Fraud 9.3 10.4 9.1 11.0 11.3 12.2 12.5 12.0 12.8 12.4
Arson 24.3 19.7 24.8 23.8 24.1 24.9 23.9 22.4 23.2 21.8
Wilful damage 4.0 3.6 2.4 6.7 6.2 4.9 4.6 4.2 4.8 4.9
Other property 5.0 6.4 5.0 7.1 6.3 7.1 7.1 6.3 6.2 4.9
Overall average 9.8 9.9 10.3 11.1 11.4 12.6 12.4 11.7 11.5 11.4

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

3.7 Sentencing for drug offences

Tables 3.21 and 3.22 respectively show the number and percentage of cases involving drug offences resulting in each type of sentence from 1997 to 2006.

Table 3.21 shows that the number of drug cases resulting in conviction peaked in 1998 at 7,313 cases, and then tracked downward to reach 5,877 in 2003. The downward trend continued between 2004 and 2006, with the number dropping from 5,798 to 5,028.

Table 3.22 shows that the proportion of convicted cases involving drug offences resulting in imprisonment increased from 9% in 1997 to 15% in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the proportion ranged from 16% to 17%. As discussed in Section 2.8, the general increase in the proportion of drug cases resulting in a custodial sentence can be partly attributed to the reclassification of methamphetamine in 2003, from a Class ‘B’ drug to a Class ‘A’ drug. This had the effect of substantially increasing the maximum penalties applicable to methamphetamine offences.

The use of work-related community sentences for drug offences varied between 1997 and 2003, with the proportion fluctuating between 29% and 35%. Between 2004 and 2006, the proportion averaged just over 27%.

Table 3.21 Number of convicted cases involving drug offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 639 613 672 704 706 798 871 976 898 813
Community work - - - - - 860 1734 1574 1434 1380
Periodic detention 1465 1952 1711 1571 1439 723 - - - -
Community service 569 639 535 465 377 164 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 2034 2591 2246 2036 1816 1747 1734 1574 1434 1380
Community programme 24 15 16 11 11 1 - - - -
Supervision 283 297 255 233 190 104 69 103 90 97
Monetary 3523 3376 3554 3382 3136 2912 2780 2589 2245 2181
Deferment 155 191 164 179 158 174 211 208 206 241
Other 0 2 2 2 6 4 2 1 4 0
Conviction & discharge 159 228 219 274 283 207 210 347 325 316
Total 6817 7313 7128 6821 6306 5947 5877 5798 5202 5028

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.22 Percentage of convicted cases involving drug offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 9.4 8.4 9.4 10.3 11.2 13.4 14.8 16.8 17.3 16.2
Community work - - - - - 14.5 29.5 27.1 27.6 27.4
Periodic detention 21.5 26.7 24.0 23.0 22.8 12.2 - - - -
Community service 8.3 8.7 7.5 6.8 6.0 2.8 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 29.8 35.4 31.5 29.8 28.8 29.4 29.5 27.1 27.6 27.4
Community programme 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.0 - - - -
Supervision 4.2 4.1 3.6 3.4 3.0 1.7 1.2 1.8 1.7 1.9
Monetary 51.7 46.2 49.9 49.6 49.7 49.0 47.3 44.7 43.2 43.4
Deferment 2.3 2.6 2.3 2.6 2.5 2.9 3.6 3.6 4.0 4.8
Other 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0
Conviction & discharge 2.3 3.1 3.1 4.0 4.5 3.5 3.6 6.0 6.2 6.3
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

The number of cases involving drug offences within each level of offence seriousness and the average seriousness of drug offences are presented in Table 3.23. The average seriousness of drug cases trended upwards between 1997 and 2002, from 68 to 86, before dropping to 77 in 2003. The overall average level of seriousness of convicted drug cases increased between 2004 and 2005, rising from 84 to 91, before falling to 86 in 2006. Changes in the number of convictions for the most serious drug offences (with scores greater than 500) have heavily influenced the trend in the overall average seriousness of drug offences, with both showing almost identical patterns.

Table 3.23 Number of convicted cases involving drug offences with each level of offence seriousness and average seriousness of drug offences, 1997 to 20061,2

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Seriousness score 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
0-1 2361 2483 2467 2291 2092 1943 1826 1691 1560 1444
>1-10 1323 1556 1507 1429 1245 1212 1365 1552 1411 1539
>10-50 1917 1980 1863 1751 1739 1491 1537 1371 1235 1119
>50-100 18 16 15 32 33 56 55 40 11 12
>100-500 993 1074 1070 1104 994 920 813 836 666 620
>500 205 204 206 214 203 325 281 308 319 294
Overall average 68 65 66 70 70 86 77 84 91 86

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The seriousness of offence scale was updated in 2005. The figures for each year in this table are calculated using the new scale, and may differ from figures in earlier publications in this series.

As noted above, changes in the seriousness of drug cases resulting in a conviction may be one factor associated with the increased proportion of drug cases resulting in a custodial sentence. Figure 3.5 shows that across the decade both revealed a general upwards trend. However, in 2006 both the average seriousness score and proportion of drug offence cases resulting in a custodial sentence dropped slightly.

Figure 3.5 Percentage of drug offence cases resulting in a custodial sentence, and average seriousness of drug offences resulting in conviction, 1997 to 2006

fig-35.jpg

Table 3.24 shows the number of convicted cases by drug offence type. It demonstrates that from 1997 to 2003, between 85% and 93% of convicted cases for drug offences involved cannabis. The proportion rose slightly from 78% in 2004 to 79% in 2005, before declining to 76% in 2006.

Between 1997 and 2003, convictions for drug offences other than cannabis increased by 71% from 528 to 903. Between 2004 and 2006, the total number of non-cannabis convictions ranged between 1,130 and 1,194, comprising between 21% and 24% of all drug convictions during this time.

Table 3.24 Number of convicted cases involving each drug offence, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Use cannabis 2836 2912 2836 2607 2293 2099 1974 1811 1652 1539
Deal in cannabis 2779 2928 2806 2675 2551 2163 2039 1845 1624 1518
Other cannabis 674 975 984 922 930 909 961 948 796 782
Use other drug 222 181 207 260 193 222 268 351 316 347
Deal in other drug 219 217 214 226 218 329 285 314 322 296
Other drug 87 100 81 131 121 225 350 529 492 546
Total 6817 7313 7128 6821 6306 5947 5877 5798 5202 5028

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Tables 3.25 and 3.26 include data on custodial sentencing for different types of drug offences.

The proportion of convicted cases involving dealing in non-cannabis drugs increased between 1997 and 2003, from 54% to 82%. In 2006, 89% of such cases received custodial sentences. This increase is related to a rise in the number of convictions for dealing in stimulants (especially methamphetamine and amphetamine) and depressants, as well as an increase in the proportion of these types of offences receiving custodial sentences. As discussed in Section 2.8, methamphetamine was reclassified from a Class ‘B’ drug to a Class ‘A’ drug in 2003. As a result, life imprisonment became the maximum penalty for dealing in methamphetamine.

Table 3.25 Percentage of convicted cases resulting in a custodial sentence, by type of drug offence, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Use cannabis 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 2 2
Deal in cannabis 16 15 17 19 21 22 25 27 25 25
Other cannabis 2 1 1 2 2 1 2 2 3 1
Use other drug 4 2 7 5 3 3 6 9 9 8
Deal in other drug 54 53 60 60 59 78 82 85 93 89
Other drug 10 2 4 5 7 10 18 25 22 17
Overall 9 8 9 10 11 13 15 17 17 16

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The percentage of cases resulting in a custodial sentence is not shown where less than five cases resulted in conviction. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in conviction, the percentage shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

The proportion of ‘other drug’ cases that resulted in a custodial sentence also increased. Most of this increase was related to a larger number of convictions for offences involving possession of equipment capable of producing or cultivating non-cannabis drugs (see Section 2.8), and an increase in the proportion of these offences receiving custodial sentences.

Table 3.25 also shows that the proportion of cases involving dealing in cannabis which resulted in a custodial sentence increased over the decade. From 1997 to 2003, the proportion of these cases resulting in a custodial sentence increased from 16% to 25%. Between 2004 and 2006, one-quarter of all convicted cases for dealing in cannabis resulted in imprisonment. In contrast, the figures show that offenders were very rarely imprisoned for possession or use of cannabis, with the proportions ranging between 1% and 2% over the decade.

Table 3.26 shows that the average custodial sentence length imposed on offenders in cases involving drugs offences has increased over the decade. From 1997 to 2003, the overall average length was between 16 and 20 months. In 2005, the average length increased to 24 months, before declining to 23 months in 2006.

The average custodial sentence length imposed for dealing in cannabis increased from 13 to 15 months between 1997 and 2003. The average ranged between 15 and 16 months from 2004 to 2006.

Between 1997 and 2003, the average length of custodial sentence imposed for dealing in drugs other than cannabis ranged from 31 to 36 months. The average sentence length for such offences was 46 months in 2005, declining to 42 months in 2006.

Table 3.26 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of drug offence, 1997 to 20061,2

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Use cannabis 1.8 1.5 1.8 1.7 2.1 2.0 1.1 2.6 1.9 0.9
Deal in cannabis 13.4 13.1 14.0 14.2 15.7 14.9 15.3 15.6 15.3 15.0
Other cannabis 3.4 2.5 2.0* 2.5 2.2 13.3* 6.4 4.6 5.4 9.9
Use other drug 1.4* - 4.5 6.4 2.0* 8.0* 6.1 3.4 3.8 2.1
Deal in other drug 34.8 32.8 31.5 36.1 35.1 31.4 33.0 38.3 46.3 42.3
Other drug 3.3* - - 5.3* 10.4* 8.3 9.4 10.5 12.9 13.6
Overall average 15.9 15.8 16.0 17.5 18.3 19.5 18.8 20.1 24.3 22.5

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The average custodial sentence length is not shown where less than five cases resulted in a custodial sentence. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in a custodial sentence, the figure shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

3.8 Sentencing for offences against the administration of justice

This section presents information on the sentencing of cases involving offences against the administration of justice, and examines the use of custodial sentences for different offence types within this category. Offences against the administration of justice are mostly:

  • the result of a breach of a sentence imposed for an earlier offence
  • the result of failure to answer bail
  • the result of breach of a protection order
  • offences relating to court procedure.

There are a number of types of breaches of sentences which are not recorded in the data used for this report. Non-payment of a monetary penalty is a breach of a court-imposed sentence, but a conviction does not result from non-payment. As part of the procedure for the enforcement of monetary penalties, people may have an alternative sentence of community work or, in particular circumstances, imprisonment imposed. The substitution of an alternative sentence is not recorded in the data utilised in this report.

Offenders who are given a community-based sentence may have their sentence reviewed for a number of reasons. On review, the sentence may be varied or cancelled and an alternative sentence substituted. Again, the substitution of an alternative sentence in these circumstances is not usually recorded in the data used for this report. However, where in some situations, the offender may simply be charged separately for breaching the conditions of their sentence. In such circumstances, the breach charge is recorded in the data and is included in the figures shown below.

Tables 3.27 and 3.28 respectively show the number and percentage of cases involving offences against the administration of justice resulting in each type of sentence from 1997 to 2006.

Table 3.27 Number of convicted cases involving offences against the administration of justice resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 797 850 804 729 740 618 669 1076 1195 1206
Community work - - - - - 1489 2534 2778 2900 3320
Periodic detention 2281 2594 2725 2838 2780 1402 - - - -
Community service 170 180 206 172 191 84 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 2451 2774 2931 3010 2971 2975 2534 2778 2900 3320
Community programme 23 43 22 11 11 4 - - - -
Supervision 247 280 316 271 213 188 182 210 249 249
Monetary 795 718 801 789 860 1299 863 1061 855 778
Deferment 316 361 375 434 402 391 523 629 612 638
Other 4 2 3 6 6 7 4 14 7 7
Conviction & discharge 823 852 856 944 1059 1033 1858 5612 6740 6621
Total 5456 5880 6108 6194 6262 6515 6633 11380 12558 12819

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.28 Percentage of convicted cases involving offences against the administration of justice resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 14.6 14.5 13.2 11.8 11.8 9.5 10.1 9.5 9.5 9.4
Community work - - - - - 22.9 38.2 24.4 23.1 25.9
Periodic detention 41.8 44.1 44.6 45.8 44.4 21.5 - - - -
Community service 3.1 3.1 3.4 2.8 3.1 1.3 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 44.9 47.2 48.0 48.6 47.4 45.7 38.2 24.4 23.1 25.9
Community programme 0.4 0.7 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.1 - - - -
Supervision 4.5 4.8 5.2 4.4 3.4 2.9 2.7 1.8 2.0 1.9
Monetary 14.6 12.2 13.1 12.7 13.7 19.9 13.0 9.3 6.8 6.1
Deferment 5.8 6.1 6.1 7.0 6.4 6.0 7.9 5.5 4.9 5.0
Other 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Conviction & discharge 15.1 14.5 14.0 15.2 16.9 15.9 28.0 49.3 53.7 51.6
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.27 shows that convicted cases involving offences against the administration of justice tracked steadily upwards from 5,456 in 1997 to 6,633 in 2003. The climb continued between 2004 and 2006, reaching 12,819 in 2006.

Table 3.28 shows that the proportion of custodial sentences imposed for offences against the administration of justice generally trended downwards between 1997 and 2003. The figures were stable between 2004 and 2006 at almost 10%.

From 1997 to 2002, around half of the convicted cases for offences against the administration of justice resulted in a work-related community sentence. The proportion dropped to 38% in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, around one-quarter of such cases resulted in a work-related community sentence.

From 1997 to 2003, between 3% and 5% of the convicted cases involving offences against the administration of justice resulted in supervision sentences. The proportion stabilised between 2004 and 2006 at 2%.

Between 1997 and 2003, monetary penalties were imposed in 12% to 20% of cases involving offences against the administration of justice. The proportion dropped from 9% in 2004 to 6% in 2006.

Table 3.29 shows the number and proportion of convicted cases for offences against the administration of justice by offence type. Table 3.30 shows the proportion of cases involving offences against the administration of justice resulting in a custodial sentence by offence type, and Table 3.31 presents information on the average custodial sentence length imposed for different types of offences within this category.

Table 3.29 Number of convicted cases involving each offence against the administration of justice, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Breach community work2 - - - - - 355 3172 5790 6790 7398
Breach periodic detention 3069 3315 3366 3516 3395 2887 433 148 53 29
Breach community service 247 205 172 190 168 225 115 24 10 6
Subtotal - breach work-related 3316 3520 3538 3706 3563 3467 3720 5962 6853 7433
Breach supervision 300 273 284 248 289 259 258 427 603 615
Breach conditions of release 69 98 98 106 132 128 293 592 811 861
Failure to answer bail 573 534 618 623 648 713 729 2735 2518 2240
Breach protection/non-molestation order3 589 887 1033 1009 1075 1010 1055 1058 1116 1072
Escape custody 200 206 197 163 153 118 146 156 165 148
Obstruct/pervert course of justice 129 102 92 96 82 91 95 114 140 116
Other against justice 280 260 248 243 320 729 337 336 352 334
Total 5456 5880 6108 6194 6262 6515 6633 11380 12558 12819

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 Community work was introduced from 30 June 2002 by the Sentencing Act 2002.

3 Non-molestation orders were replaced by protection orders under the Domestic Violence Act 1995.

The Sentencing Act 2002 changed the types of community-based sentences that may be imposed and the types of sentences that may be breached. While periodic detention and community service could not be imposed after 29 June 2002, sentences still in force after that date could still result in breach action being taken. Tables 3.29 to 3.31 include a subtotal for breaches of work-related community sentences so that the trends are easier to analyse.

The proportion of cases resulting in imprisonment for breaching the conditions of work-related community sentences declined from 15% in 1997 to 8% in 2003. The corresponding percentages were 10% in 2004, and 9% in 2005 and 2006.

Table 3.30 Percentage of convicted cases involving offences against the administration of justice resulting in a custodial sentence, by offence type, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Breach community work - - - - - 9 8 10 9 9
Breach periodic detention 16 15 14 12 11 10 9 3 0 0
Breach community service 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0*
Subtotal - breach work-related 15 14 13 12 11 9 8 10 9 9
Breach supervision 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 3 4 5
Breach conditions of release 20 17 12 12 11 13 14 15 12 13
Failure to answer bail 11 11 13 11 12 9 8 3 2 3
Breach protection/non-molestation order 11 13 11 11 14 12 13 15 17 17
Escape custody 50 57 45 37 39 36 27 33 38 24
Obstruct/pervert course of justice 33 30 39 33 40 41 49 44 54 53
Other against justice 5 8 3 7 7 3 9 10 11 12
Overall 15 14 13 12 12 9 10 9 10 9

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The percentage of cases resulting in a custodial sentence is not shown where less than five cases resulted in conviction. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in conviction, the percentage shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

Prior to the Sentencing Act 2002 coming into force, breaching the conditions of a supervision sentence was not an imprisonable offence. From 30 June 2002, however, the maximum penalty for breaching the conditions of a supervision sentence became three months’ imprisonment. In 2006, 5% of convicted cases involving the breach of a supervision sentence resulted in imprisonment.

The proportion of cases resulting in a custodial sentence for breaching conditions of release from prison tracked downwards from 1997 to 2001, before increasing slightly in 2002. Between 2004 and 2006, the proportion ranged from 12% to 15%. It is necessary to note, however, that prisoners released on parole and some other types of release may be recalled to prison to continue serving their sentence instead of, or in addition to, being charged with a breach.

The proportion of cases resulting in a custodial sentence for failure to answer bail also declined from 13% in 1999 to 8% in 2003. Around 3% of such cases were disposed in this way in 2006. It is important to note, however, that some people who fail to answer bail may be remanded in custody for the remainder of the case rather than being charged with failure to answer bail.

Non-molestation orders were replaced by protection orders when the Domestic Violence Act 1995 came into force on 1 July 1996. The proportion of cases involving breaches of these orders that resulted in a custodial sentence trended upwards from 11% in 1997 to 13% in 2003. The proportion rose from 15% in 2004 to 17% in 2005 and 2006.

The proportion of cases resulting in a custodial sentence for escaping from lawful custody steadily declined from 1998 onwards, when 57% of these cases were disposed in this way. Though the 2005 figures recorded an increase on 2004 (from 33% to 38%), the proportion fell to 24% in 2006.

The proportion of cases resulting in imprisonment for obstructing or perverting the course of justice climbed steadily from 33% in 1997 to 49% in 2003. Over half of such cases resulted in imprisonment in 2005 and 2006.

Table 3.31 shows the average length of the custodial sentences (in months) imposed for different offences against the administration of justice, as well as the total average length of sentences awarded for all offences against the administration of justice overall.

The average length of custodial sentences imposed in cases involving offences against justice fluctuated between three and four months from 1997 to 2003. The overall average remained at approximately three months between 2004 and 2006.

After the Sentencing Act 2002 and the Parole Act 2002 came into force on 30 June 2002, the maximum penalty for breaching the conditions of release from prison increased from three months’ to one year’s imprisonment. Not surprisingly, therefore, the average length of custodial sentences imposed for this offence increased from one to two months between 2002 and 2003, and from two months to two and a half months between 2004 and 2006.

The average custodial sentence length imposed for breaching the conditions of a work-related community sentence was consistently almost two months from 1997 to 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the average custodial sentence for such cases was around one and a half months in duration.

Under the Domestic Violence Act 1995, which came into force in July 1996, the maximum penalty that may be imposed for breaching a protection order is six months’ imprisonment, or, if an offender has two previous convictions for similar breaches within the preceding three years, up to two years’ imprisonment. The average length of custodial sentences imposed for breaching a protection order ranged from three to four months between 1997 and 2003. The average custodial sentence length declined from almost four months in 2004 to three and a half months in 2006.

Table 3.31 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of offence against the administration of justice, 1997 to 20061,2

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Breach community work - - - - - 1.9 1.6 1.6 1.5 1.5
Breach periodic detention 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.7* - -
Breach community service - - - - - - - - - -
Subtotal - breach work-related 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.5 1.5
Breach supervision - - - - - - 1.5 1.3 2.7 2.7
Breach conditions of release 1.6 1.5 1.3 1.6 1.8 1.2 2.4 2.1 2.2 2.5
Failure to answer bail 1.9 2.1 2.0 2.1 2.1 1.9 1.8 2.0 1.7 1.6
Breach protection/non-molestation order 3.4 2.9 3.3 3.3 3.4 3.9 4.0 3.9 3.8 3.5
Escape custody 4.9 6.5 4.5 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.6 3.8 4.3 4.8
Obstruct/pervert course of justice 9.0 12.4 9.8 10.3 9.1 11.5 12.2 11.0 9.9 9.9
Other against justice 12.5 5.0 3.1* 7.0 4.2 3.8 10.2 4.0 4.6 6.0
Overall average 2.9 3.1 2.7 2.9 2.8 3.1 3.6 2.6 2.7 2.6

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The average custodial sentence length is not shown where less than five cases resulted in a custodial sentence. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in a custodial sentence, the figure shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

3.9 Sentencing for offences against good order

This section presents information on the sentencing of all cases involving offences against good order, and then examines the use of custodial sentences for some individual offences against good order.

Tables 3.32 and 3.33 respectively show the number and percentage of cases involving offences against good order resulting in each type of sentence from 1997 to 2006.

Table 3.32 shows that the number of cases involving offences against good order increased steadily from 1997 to 2003. The 2006 figures recorded a 10% increase from 2005, from 8,697 to 9,571. As Table 3.33 shows, only a very small proportion (around 2%) of cases involving offences against good order resulted in a custodial sentence.

The proportion of cases involving offences against good order resulting in a work-related community sentence fluctuated between 9% and 13% from 1997 to 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the proportion increased from 9% to 11%.

Supervision was the most serious sentencing outcome for around 3% of convicted cases involving offences against good order between 1997 and 1999. This proportion fell to 2% in the next two years and levelled off at 1% in 2002 and 2003, and has subsequently remained at this level.

Over half of the cases involving an offence against good order resulted in a monetary penalty. The proportion fluctuated between 56% and 65% between 1997 and 2003, and levelled off at 60% between 2004 and 2006.

Table 3.32 Number of convicted cases involving offences against good order resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 141 153 128 125 127 139 148 173 163 181
Community work - - - - - 414 907 848 895 1037
Periodic detention 553 611 678 588 609 263 - - - -
Community service 169 167 222 153 191 63 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 722 778 900 741 800 740 907 848 895 1037
Community programme 7 3 10 4 2 1 - - - -
Supervision 158 159 181 169 142 107 85 100 102 108
Monetary 3671 3556 3900 4334 4910 5200 5767 5530 5068 5721
Deferment 610 696 731 820 777 833 927 1077 1096 1187
Other 4 4 9 3 14 13 4 10 10 9
Conviction & discharge 764 1002 980 1062 1095 1098 1091 1543 1363 1328
Total 6077 6351 6839 7258 7867 8131 8929 9281 8697 9571

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.33 Percentage of convicted cases involving offences against good order resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 2.3 2.4 1.9 1.7 1.6 1.7 1.7 1.9 1.9 1.9
Community work - - - - - 5.1 10.2 9.1 10.3 10.8
Periodic detention 9.1 9.6 9.9 8.1 7.7 3.2 - - - -
Community service 2.8 2.6 3.2 2.1 2.4 0.8 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 11.9 12.3 13.2 10.2 10.2 9.1 10.2 9.1 10.3 10.8
Community programme 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 - - - -
Supervision 2.6 2.5 2.6 2.3 1.8 1.3 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.1
Monetary 60.4 56.0 57.0 59.7 62.4 64.0 64.6 59.6 58.3 59.8
Deferment 10.0 11.0 10.7 11.3 9.9 10.2 10.4 11.6 12.6 12.4
Other 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1
Conviction & discharge 12.6 15.8 14.3 14.6 13.9 13.5 12.2 16.6 15.7 13.9
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.34 shows the number of convicted cases by offence type. Tables 3.35 and 3.36 present information on the custodial sentences imposed for different types of offences against good order.

Table 3.34 shows that the offences of possession of an offensive weapon and disorderly behaviour increased over the decade. From 1997 to 2003, between 54% and 67% of cases involving offences against good order pertained to disorderly behaviour. In 2006, two-thirds of convicted cases involving offences against good order involved disorderly behaviour.

Table 3.34 Number of convicted cases involving each offence against good order, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Riot 5 2 2 17 10 4 4 10 2 0
Unlawful assembly 54 26 16 16 10 17 34 45 25 16
Possess offensive weapon 692 769 775 705 781 819 894 951 1061 1173
Offensive language 358 362 421 385 361 341 310 297 228 226
Disorderly behaviour 3307 3586 3938 4398 5000 5175 5976 6051 5593 6350
Trespassing 1488 1477 1573 1616 1575 1663 1614 1806 1695 1705
Other against good order 173 129 114 121 130 112 97 121 93 101
Total 6077 6351 6839 7258 7867 8131 8929 9281 8697 9571

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.35 Percentage of convicted cases resulting in a custodial sentence, by type of offence against good order, 1997 to 20061,2

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Riot 40* - - 65 20 - - 30 - -
Unlawful assembly 11 19 13 13 10 0 0 9 4 0
Possess offensive weapon 9 10 7 8 7 8 8 9 9 9
Offensive language 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disorderly behaviour 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Trespassing 4 3 4 3 4 3 4 3 3 3
Other against good order 2 1 1 2 0 4 5 9 2 6
Overall 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The percentage of cases resulting in a custodial sentence is not shown where less than five cases resulted in conviction. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in conviction, the percentage shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

The proportion of cases involving unlawful assembly that resulted in a custodial sentence fluctuated across the period.

Table 3.36 shows that the average length of the custodial sentences imposed for good order offences overall averaged between three and five months from 1997 to 2003. The overall average fluctuated between three and four months from 2004 to 2006.

Table 3.36 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of offence against good order, 1997 to 20061,2

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Riot - - - 14.5 - - - - - -
Unlawful assembly 3.3* 2.2* - - - - - - - -
Possess offensive weapon 4.1 5.2 5.9 5.5 5.9 4.8 5.4 4.2 4.3 4.3
Offensive language - - - - - - - - - -
Disorderly behaviour 1.5 1.1 1.3 1.7* 1.5* 2.0 6.1* 1.7 1.2 0.9
Trespassing 1.7 1.8 1.7 2.4 1.5 1.8 1.7 1.7 1.5 1.3
Other against good order - - - - - - 14.0* 15.9 - 27.3*
Overall average 2.9 3.4 3.8 4.9 3.5 3.4 4.2 4.0 3.2 3.8

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The average custodial sentence length is not shown where less than five cases resulted in a custodial sentence. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in a custodial sentence, the figure shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

3.10 Sentencing for traffic offences

Tables 3.37 and 3.38 respectively show the number and percentage of convicted cases involving traffic offences resulting in each type of sentence from 1997 to 2006.

The use of imprisonment for traffic offences remained consistent from 1997 to 2003, with 4% of convicted cases resulting in a custodial sentence each year. The proportion rose to 5% in the period from 2004 to 2006. Despite only a small proportion of traffic offences resulting in a custodial sentence, a reasonably large number of people are imprisoned for traffic offending each year because of the large volume of convictions for these offences. In 2006, there were 2,070 traffic cases that resulted in a custodial sentence. This represented 20% of the total custodial sentences imposed in 2006.

Table 3.38 shows that around one-quarter of traffic offences resulted in a work-related community sentence from 1997 to 1999. The proportion remained stable at around 20% from 2000 onwards.

The proportion of convicted traffic cases resulting in a supervision sentence dropped from around 2% in 1997 to 1% in 2002, stabilising at just under 1% for the remainder of the decade.

Table 3.37 Number of convicted cases involving traffic offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 1725 1788 1788 1580 1557 1635 1626 2122 2162 2070
Community work - - - - - 3970 8164 8263 8519 9563
Periodic detention 6852 7347 6724 5389 5507 2410 - - - -
Community service 3829 4190 3628 3085 2927 1321 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 10681 11537 10352 8474 8434 7701 8164 8263 8519 9563
Community programme 97 91 59 47 50 10 - - - -
Supervision 982 961 779 698 611 347 298 302 328 312
Monetary 27387 28000 27681 28140 28206 27678 28053 30019 29457 30062
Deferment 45 56 85 69 68 53 59 84 68 52
Other 747 921 1032 1057 1018 1128 1214 1783 1783 1965
Conviction & discharge 952 1258 1420 2295 2425 2271 2152 2620 2038 1895
Total 42616 44612 43196 42360 42369 40823 41566 45193 44355 45919

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.38 Percentage of convicted cases involving traffic offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 4.0 4.0 4.1 3.7 3.7 4.0 3.9 4.7 4.9 4.5
Community work - - - - - 9.7 19.6 18.3 19.2 20.8
Periodic detention 16.1 16.5 15.6 12.7 13.0 5.9 - - - -
Community service 9.0 9.4 8.4 7.3 6.9 3.2 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 25.1 25.9 24.0 20.0 19.9 18.9 19.6 18.3 19.2 20.8
Community programme 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 - - - -
Supervision 2.3 2.2 1.8 1.6 1.4 0.9 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7
Monetary 64.3 62.8 64.1 66.4 66.6 67.8 67.5 66.4 66.4 65.5
Deferment 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1
Other 1.8 2.1 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.8 2.9 3.9 4.0 4.3
Conviction & discharge 2.2 2.8 3.3 5.4 5.7 5.6 5.2 5.8 4.6 4.1
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Throughout the decade a monetary penalty was the most common penalty imposed for convicted traffic cases. This was the most serious penalty imposed for two-thirds of convicted traffic cases. This is principally because a large proportion of convicted traffic offences involve failure to comply with a prohibition of an enforcement officer, an offence which typically results in the imposition of a fine (see above Section 2.11).

Table 3.39 shows the number of convicted traffic cases by offence type. Tables 3.40 and 3.41 present data on the proportion of convicted cases resulting in a custodial sentence for different types of traffic offence. Between 1997 and 2006, nearly half of the cases involving traffic offences (between 45% and 48%) involved driving with excess alcohol.

Table 3.39 Number of convicted cases involving each traffic offence by offence type, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Driving causing death or injury 1040 1093 1069 989 932 935 1021 1072 1096 1105
Driving with excess alcohol 20282 20421 19589 18904 19756 18452 18703 20191 20593 21558
Driving while disqualified 7861 8605 7547 5753 5450 5012 5105 5615 5646 6200
Reckless/dangerous driving 1633 1790 1862 1612 1701 1866 2202 2868 3049 3189
Careless driving 7011 7695 6915 6257 5735 6057 5492 5457 5416 4998
Other traffic 4789 5008 6214 8845 8795 8501 9043 9990 8555 8869
Total 42616 44612 43196 42360 42369 40823 41566 45193 44355 45919

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.40 Percentage of convicted cases involving traffic offences resulting in a custodial sentence by offence type, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Driving causing death or injury 5 6 6 6 7 8 7 9 9 10
Driving with excess alcohol 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 5
Driving while disqualified 15 14 14 15 14 14 13 15 15 13
Reckless/dangerous driving 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 2 2
Careless driving 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other traffic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Overall 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The percentage of cases resulting in a custodial sentence is not shown where less than five cases resulted in conviction. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in conviction, the percentage shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

The proportion of cases involving driving causing death or injury resulting in imprisonment increased over the decade. Thus, although only 5% to 8% of such offences resulted in a custodial sentence from 1997 to 2003, between 2004 and 2006 the corresponding proportions were between 9% and 10%.

Similarly, the proportion of driving with excess alcohol cases (excluding those cases causing death or injury) resulting in a custodial sentence rose from 2% to 5% between 1997 and 2003. This increase may be partly explained by a legislative change in early 1999, which increased the maximum penalty for repeat drunk driving from three months’ to two years’ imprisonment. Between 2004 and 2006, the proportion of driving with excess alcohol cases resulting in a custodial sentence ranged from 5% to 6%.

Table 3.41 shows that the average length of custodial sentences imposed for traffic offences increased from just over five months in 1997 to seven and a half months in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, the average sentence length remained steady at around seven months.

The average length of the custodial sentences imposed in cases involving driving causing death or injury fluctuated from year to year. In 2006, the average length of imprisonment imposed in such cases was 15 months.

Table 3.41 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of traffic offence, 1997 to 20061,2

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Driving causing death or injury 15.5 12.7 13.1 16.7 11.4 14.4 16.5 15.0 13.6 15.0
Driving with excess alcohol 2.0 2.1 4.0 5.6 5.4 6.0 6.5 6.1 5.9 6.0
Driving while disqualified 6.4 6.6 6.9 7.6 7.5 8.3 8.1 7.5 7.0 7.4
Reckless/dangerous driving 1.9 1.7 3.5 3.2 1.8 1.9 2.3 2.2 2.1 2.3
Careless driving - - - - - - - - - -
Other traffic - - - - - 2.6* - 3.7 2.3 2.1
Overall average 5.4 5.6 6.1 7.0 6.6 7.3 7.5 6.9 6.6 6.8

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The average custodial sentence length is not shown where less than five cases resulted in a custodial sentence. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in a custodial sentence, the figure shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

The average length of custodial sentences imposed for driving with excess alcohol increased from four months in 1999 to five and a half months in 2000. This change can, at least in part, be attributed to the legislative change in 1999 outlined above. From 2000 onwards, the average length of custodial sentence imposed for such offences remained stable at around six months.

A sentencing structure similar to that for driving with excess alcohol also exists for driving while disqualified offences. Prior to the Land Transport Act 1998, the maximum penalty for driving while disqualified (excluding cases resulting in death and injury) was three months’ imprisonment for the first offence, and for repeat offenders the maximum was five years’ imprisonment. The Land Transport Act reduced the maximum penalty for offenders convicted of a third or subsequent driving while disqualified offence from five to two years’ imprisonment. Despite this reduction, the average length of custodial sentence imposed for driving while disqualified offences has continued to increase – reaching eight months in 2002 and 2003. This was the longest average custodial sentence length recorded for driving while disqualified offences during the decade. The average length of custodial sentence ranged from seven to seven and a half months between 2004 and 2006. This increase, however, may be partly artificial. In cases where a drunk driver is also found to be a disqualified driver, and is convicted on both offences, there has been a shift in the sentences imposed in recent years, with large increases in the sentences imposed for the drunk driving offence. This has meant that the major offence in some cases involving both drunk driving and driving while disqualified is now defined as driving with excess alcohol. In cases that still have driving while disqualified recorded as the most serious offence, the driving while disqualified offence is likely to be a more serious offence of this kind. It would therefore be anticipated that the average sentence imposed for driving while disqualified would be longer. The figures presented in Table 3.41 suggest that this has been the case.

3.11 Sentencing for miscellaneous offences

The majority of the miscellaneous offences are non-imprisonable. Consequently, only a small proportion of such offences result in imprisonment. Tables 3.42 and 3.43 respectively provide the number and percentage of convicted cases involving miscellaneous offences resulting in each sentence type. Table 3.43 shows that the proportion of miscellaneous offences resulting in imprisonment was between 1% and 2% from 1997 to 2003, while the proportion ranged from 2% to 3% between 2004 and 2006.

Table 3.42 Number of convicted cases involving miscellaneous offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 65 84 55 69 76 93 109 124 165 202
Community work - - - - - 158 388 387 349 422
Periodic detention 141 223 172 162 175 78 - - - -
Community service 116 122 135 87 80 65 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 257 345 307 249 255 301 388 387 349 422
Community programme 2 1 0 1 0 0 - - - -
Supervision 45 35 50 37 30 16 16 10 20 31
Monetary 4072 3568 3545 2363 2534 3193 5071 4840 4555 6089
Deferment 68 74 89 53 72 70 75 85 83 98
Other 1 1 2 0 1 1 2 4 0 1
Conviction & discharge 448 529 426 242 210 242 472 474 591 684
Total 4958 4637 4474 3014 3178 3916 6133 5924 5763 7527

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

The proportion of miscellaneous offences resulting in community-based sentences fluctuated between 5% and 8% from 1997 to 2003. Around 6% of miscellaneous offences resulted in the imposition of a work-related community sentence between 2004 and 2006.

During the decade, a monetary penalty was the most frequent outcome for convicted cases involving a miscellaneous offence. Between 2004 and 2006, around 80% of convicted cases involving miscellaneous offences resulted in the imposition of a monetary penalty.

Table 3.43 Percentage of convicted cases involving miscellaneous offences resulting in each type of sentence, 1997 to 2006

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Sentence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Custodial 1.3 1.8 1.2 2.3 2.4 2.4 1.8 2.1 2.9 2.7
Community work - - - - - 4.0 6.3 6.5 6.1 5.6
Periodic detention 2.8 4.8 3.8 5.4 5.5 2.0 - - - -
Community service 2.3 2.6 3.0 2.9 2.5 1.7 - - - -
Subtotal - work-related 5.2 7.4 6.9 8.3 8.0 7.7 6.3 6.5 6.1 5.6
Community programme 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 - - - -
Supervision 0.9 0.8 1.1 1.2 0.9 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.4
Monetary 82.1 76.9 79.2 78.4 79.7 81.5 82.7 81.7 79.0 80.9
Deferment 1.4 1.6 2.0 1.8 2.3 1.8 1.2 1.4 1.4 1.3
Other 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0
Conviction & discharge 9.0 11.4 9.5 8.0 6.6 6.2 7.7 8.0 10.3 9.1
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.44 shows the number of convicted cases by offence type. Tables 3.45 and 3.46 present data on the custodial sentencing of different offence types within the miscellaneous offence category.

Between 1997 and 2003, the proportion of convictions for miscellaneous cases concerning liquor-related offences ranged from 4% to 22%. In 2006, over half (56%) of the convictions for miscellaneous cases were liquor-related offences.

The proportion of cases involving offences under the Arms Act 1983 that resulted in a custodial sentence fluctuated from 10% to 17% between 1997 and 2003. The proportion rose from 13% in 2004 to 16% in 2006. Between 1997 and 2003, the average length of custodial sentence imposed for such offences fluctuated between 8 months and 12 months. In 2006, the average length of sentence imposed was ten and a half months.

In the period from 1997 to 2003, the average length of custodial sentence imposed for miscellaneous offences overall has fluctuated between 8 months and 13 months. The figures increased between 2004 and 2006, from 9 months to 12 months.

In more recent years, an increasing proportion of cases involving offences under the Tax Act resulted in a custodial sentence. Between 2004 and 2006, 3% of convicted cases involving these offences resulted in imprisonment. The average length of the custodial sentence imposed for such offences fluctuated between 10 and 16 months.

Table 3.44 Number of convicted cases involving each miscellaneous offence, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Arms Act 410 445 451 361 340 333 382 410 395 450
Dog Control Act 1433 771 485 341 411 293 449 221 245 201
Tax Act 597 551 432 501 625 596 778 599 701 836
Liquor-related 785 1010 977 156 140 209 1071 2967 2544 4248
Fisheries Act 99 150 197 263 317 348 484 460 361 307
Other miscellaneous 1634 1710 1932 1392 1345 2137 2969 1267 1517 1485
Total 4958 4637 4474 3014 3178 3916 6133 5924 5763 7527

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.45 Percentage of convicted cases resulting in a custodial sentence, by type of miscellaneous offence, 1997 to 2006

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Arms Act 13 14 10 16 16 17 14 13 14 16
Dog Control Act 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tax Act 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 3 3
Liquor-related 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fisheries Act 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 1 1
Other miscellaneous 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 4 6 7
Overall 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 3 3

Note The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

Table 3.46 Average custodial sentence length imposed (in months), by type of miscellaneous offence, 1997 to 20061,2

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Offence type 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Arms Act 10.0 8.3 9.4 10.5 8.1 12.2 11.5 8.4 11.3 10.6
Dog Control Act - - - - - - - - - -
Tax Act - - - - - - 9.3* 15.8 10.0 12.1
Liquor-related - - - - - - - - - -
Fisheries Act - - - - - 23.5 - - - -
Other miscellaneous 6.1 5.7 11.2 3.4* 8.0 7.8 6.4 7.0 9.4 13.7
Overall average 9.2 7.5 9.7 9.7 7.9 12.6 8.9 8.6 10.1 12.3

Notes

1 The system used to log cases was updated in 2004 (from LES to CMS). This has caused changes in the figures and trends in cases that are observed up to and following 2004. In particular, any changes in the number of cases in 2004 may not represent a true change in offender patterns. Accordingly, caution should be used when making inferences based on any change between 2003 and 2004. Please also note that other changes in the above data are partly due to, for example, finalised appeals. See Sections 1.2 to 1.4 for full details.

2 The average custodial sentence length is not shown where less than five cases resulted in a custodial sentence. Where at least five but fewer than ten cases resulted in a custodial sentence, the figure shown is marked with an * to signify that it must be treated with caution as it is calculated from a small number of cases.

3.12 Sentences imposed in each court in 2006 for all offences

Table 3.47 shows the most serious sentence imposed for every case finalised in each court in 2006. In locations where there is a District and a High Court, the conviction figures from the two courts have been combined to form a single total.

Of the 112,774 cases resulting in a conviction in 2006, 111,875 (99%) were finalised in a District Court, and 860 (1%) were finalised in a High Court.[19]

Variation in the types of offences dealt with by individual courts (see Table 2.15) partly explains disparities in the sentences recorded for different courts. In addition, the availability of corrections facilities and services (e.g. work centres or programmes such as those to treat drug- or alcohol-related problems) in a location can affect which types of sentence are imposed. As noted in Chapter 2, some charges must be tried before a jury if the defendant pleads not guilty. Other charges can be tried before a judge alone, but the defendant can elect a jury trial. The least serious charges must be tried before a judge alone. If a person is charged with an offence that must be tried by a jury, but the closest court does not hold jury trials (e.g. Levin District Court), the case will be transferred to another court that holds such trials. For this reason, some of the more serious offences that were committed in locations such as Levin will appear in figures for other courts, and, as a consequence, may artificially exaggerate sentencing differences between courts.

Due to the small number of cases, Chatham Islands, Whataroa and Kaikoura have not been used for comparison with other locations. Table 3.47 shows that Auckland processed the highest total of cases in 2006 at 10,906. Other key trends for most serious sentence imposed for all convicted cases finalised in 2006 were as follows:

  • The proportion of all convicted cases that resulted in a custodial sentence in each location ranged from 1% in Ruatoria, to 17% in Wanganui. The national average was 9%.
  • The proportion of convicted cases receiving community-based sentences ranged from 13% of cases convicted in Queenstown to 48% of cases convicted in Ruatoria. This compared to 26% of all cases in New Zealand in 2006.
  • In 2006, monetary penalties were imposed as the most serious sentence for 31% of cases in Opotiki, while in Waihi most cases resulted in a monetary penalty (75%). In New Zealand as a whole, 47% of cases resulted in monetary penalties.
  • Overall, a total of 7% of cases in New Zealand resulted in ‘other’ sentences being imposed. In Waitakere, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt and Westport, 11% of cases received ‘other’ sentences, compared to 3% in Ruatoria and Alexandra.
  • In 2006, 18% of cases sentenced in Rotorua resulted in a conviction and discharge. The proportions in the other regions were lower than this, with the lowest figure recorded in Waihi, where 2% of cases resulted in a conviction and discharge. The national average was 11%.

Table 3.47 Most serious sentence imposed for all convicted cases finalised in each court location, 20061,2

 

Custodial

Community-
based3

Monetary

Other

Conviction &
discharge

Total

Court
No.
%
No.
%
No.
%
No.
%
No.
%
No.
%
Kaitaia 89 12 224 30 297 40 43 6 82 11 735 100
Kaikohe* 150 12 412 32 504 39 66 5 151 12 1283 100
Whangarei* 359 12 796 26 1523 50 143 5 222 7 3043 100
Dargaville 29 9 125 37 133 39 20 6 34 10 341 100
Warkworth 10 2 70 17 288 68 25 6 31 7 424 100
Auckland* 1039 10 1965 18 5621 52 845 8 1436 13 10906 100
Waitakere 231 5 1233 25 2080 42 536 11 862 17 4942 100
North Shore 268 7 861 22 2275 57 257 6 304 8 3965 100
Manukau* 773 9 2248 25 3994 44 571 6 1390 15 8976 100
Papakura 128 7 569 31 702 39 133 7 282 16 1814 100
Pukekohe 89 7 372 29 607 47 101 8 118 9 1287 100
Thames 27 4 201 28 392 55 43 6 56 8 719 100
Huntly 35 7 161 30 269 51 36 7 31 6 532 100
Waihi 29 2 225 19 872 75 19 2 24 2 1169 100
Morrinsville 31 5 158 26 343 56 29 5 51 8 612 100
Hamilton* 753 14 1354 25 2637 49 267 5 390 7 5401 100
Te Awamutu 20 6 99 28 205 58 13 4 15 4 352 100
Tauranga* 558 11 1251 25 2487 50 252 5 409 8 4957 100
Whakatane 158 11 486 32 675 45 70 5 109 7 1498 100
Opotiki 36 10 171 47 113 31 15 4 28 8 363 100
Ruatoria 1 1 54 48 43 38 3 3 11 10 112 100
Tokoroa 56 6 317 32 358 37 92 9 157 16 980 100
Rotorua* 374 12 939 29 1075 33 256 8 574 18 3218 100
Te Kuiti 18 5 128 36 168 47 16 5 25 7 355 100
Taupo 92 7 297 22 625 47 124 9 195 15 1333 100
Gisborne* 236 10 704 30 1084 46 129 5 200 8 2353 100
Wairoa 22 6 104 29 181 51 33 9 15 4 355 100
Taumaranui 33 10 125 36 143 42 30 9 12 3 343 100
New Plymouth* 262 10 788 29 1150 43 114 4 370 14 2684 100
Taihape 22 8 79 29 155 57 11 4 7 3 274 100
Napier* 381 14 765 29 1112 42 146 5 262 10 2666 100
Hastings 298 12 755 30 1067 43 134 5 229 9 2483 100
Hawera 66 7 368 38 383 39 44 5 116 12 977 100
Wanganui* 293 17 586 34 556 32 95 5 214 12 1744 100
Marton 18 5 83 25 161 49 29 9 39 12 330 100
Waipukurau 13 5 89 32 134 48 14 5 32 11 282 100
Dannevirke 20 8 85 34 109 44 10 4 25 10 249 100
Feilding 40 8 134 28 232 49 22 5 45 10 473 100
Palmerston North* 350 13 770 28 1310 47 151 5 212 8 2793 100
Levin 84 8 331 32 429 41 94 9 98 9 1036 100
Masterton 49 4 363 27 611 45 108 8 225 17 1356 100
Porirua 95 4 693 32 945 44 213 10 218 10 2164 100
Upper Hutt 35 4 255 27 400 42 110 11 158 16 958 100
Lower Hutt 83 4 695 29 992 42 272 11 327 14 2369 100
Wellington* 389 11 752 22 1576 46 306 9 421 12 3444 100
Chatham Islands 0 0 8 30 15 56 1 4 3 11 27 100
Nelson* 207 9 755 32 1022 43 129 5 245 10 2358 100
Blenheim* 81 7 298 26 594 53 53 5 100 9 1126 100
Westport 10 4 64 27 117 50 26 11 16 7 233 100
Greymouth* 34 6 171 28 322 53 54 9 24 4 605 100
Kaikoura 2 3 15 20 49 66 6 8 2 3 74 100
Christchurch* 1085 12 2264 25 4425 49 482 5 725 8 8981 100
Rangiora 27 4 170 25 408 59 42 6 39 6 686 100
Whataroa 0 0 5 17 22 73 0 0 3 10 30 100
Ashburton 22 5 127 30 209 49 26 6 41 10 425 100
Timaru* 121 10 306 24 672 53 66 5 100 8 1265 100
Oamaru 23 4 127 23 317 58 40 7 42 8 549 100
Queenstown 11 2 77 13 426 70 32 5 62 10 608 100
Alexandra 11 2 77 14 421 74 18 3 39 7 566 100
Dunedin* 356 11 856 25 1611 48 181 5 378 11 3382 100
Gore 27 6 117 26 235 53 32 7 36 8 447 100
Balclutha 10 4 50 22 136 59 15 6 21 9 232 100
Invercargill* 297 12 712 28 1190 47 163 6 165 7 2527 100
Total 10469 9 29439 26 53207 47 7406 7 12253 11 112774 100

Notes

1 The figures in this table are case-based.

2 The courts marked with an * have a High Court and/or hold District Court jury trials.

3 Community-based sentences include community work and supervision.

3.13 Gender, age, and ethnicity of offenders

This section of the report presents information on the gender, age, and ethnicity of offenders that were sentenced in 2006. Although not examined in this report, some of the differences in sentencing seen by gender, age, and ethnicity will be due to differences in the types and seriousness of offences committed, differences in offending histories, as well as other factors. As discussed in Section 1.5, the way ethnicity data is collected has implications on its data quality.

Tables 3.48 to 349 respectively present information on the gender and age of offenders who received each type of sentence in 2006. Excluded from these tables were 931 cases where a conviction was entered against a corporation.

Table 3.50 presents information on the ethnicity of offenders who received each type of sentence in 2006. Excluded from this table were 931 cases where a conviction was entered against a corporation.

Table 3.48 shows that the majority of the offenders convicted in 2006 were male (82%). Male offenders were also more likely to be sent to prison than females, with 10% of all convicted males receiving custodial sentences, compared to 5% of all convicted females. This disparity is likely to be partially explained by differences in the seriousness of offending and offending histories. The figures show that one in ten cases resulting in a custodial sentence in 2006 involved female offenders, while nine in ten cases receiving custodial sentences involved male offenders.

Female offenders accounted for about one-fifth of community work and supervision sentences imposed in 2006.

Table 3.48 Total number of cases resulting in conviction, by most serious sentence imposed and gender of the offender, 2006

 

Male

Female

Unknown Total
Most serious sentence No. % No. % No. No.
Custodial 9412 90 1040 10 17 10469
Community work 21947 81 5209 19 40 27196
Supervision 1738 78 504 22 1 2243
Monetary 42870 82 9381 18 177 52428
Deferment 3975 75 1352 25 13 5340
Other 1678 81 381 19 2 2061
Conviction & discharge 9666 80 2393 20 47 12106
Total 91286 82 20260 18 297 111843

Note Column percentages were calculated excluding cases where gender was not known.

Table 3.49 shows that cases involving offenders in their twenties accounted for 41% of the cases that resulted in a custodial sentence in 2006, with a further 12% of such cases involving offenders aged 17 to 19. Of the 1,316 cases involving teenagers that resulted in a custodial sentence, 98% involved offenders aged 17 to 19. One in five offenders receiving a custodial sentence in 2006 was aged 40 years or over.

Table 3.49 Total number of cases resulting in conviction, by most serious sentence imposed and age of the offender, 2006

 

14 to 16

17 to 19

20 to 24

25 to 29

30 to 39

40+

Unknown Total
Most serious sentence No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. No.
Custodial 30 0 1286 12 2456 24 1822 17 2747 26 2093 20 35 10469
Community work 21 0 5618 21 6662 25 4057 15 6129 23 4604 17 105 27196
Supervision 7 0 387 17 438 20 351 16 613 27 435 19 12 2243
Monetary 304 1 12696 24 12723 24 6768 13 9627 18 9940 19 370 52428
Deferment 3 0 824 15 1034 19 734 14 1381 26 1345 25 19 5340
Other 32 2 606 29 469 23 254 12 322 16 376 18 2 2061
Conviction & discharge 95 1 2281 19 3185 27 1819 15 2625 22 2005 17 96 12106
Total 492 0 23698 21 26967 24 15805 14 23444 21 20798 19 639 111843

Note Column percentages were calculated excluding cases where age was not known.

Offenders under 25 years of age accounted for 46% of the cases resulting in a community-work sentence in 2006.

In 2006, nearly two-thirds (304 out of 492) of the cases involving offenders aged 14 to 16 resulted in the imposition of a monetary penalty. For offenders in other age groups, the proportion resulting in a monetary penalty was much closer to a half.

Table 3.50 shows that for convicted cases in 2006, where the person’s ethnicity was recorded, 45% involved NZ European offenders, 43% involved Māori offenders, 9% involved Pacific offenders, and 3% involved offenders from other ethnic groups.

In 2006, Māori accounted for over half (53%) of the cases resulting in imprisonment, while 37% involved NZ Europeans, 7% involved Pacific peoples, and 3% involved persons from ‘Other’ ethnic groups. In 2006, 13% of all convicted cases involving Māori resulted in imprisonment, compared to 8% of cases involving NZ Europeans, 8% involving Pacific peoples, and 8% involving persons from ‘Other’ ethnic groups.

Māori offenders accounted for 49% of the cases resulting in a community work sentence in 2006, while 41% involved NZ Europeans, 8% Pacific peoples, and 2% persons from ‘Other’ ethnic groups.

In 2006, 51% of cases involving NZ European offenders resulted in the imposition of a monetary penalty. For cases involving Māori and Pacific peoples, the proportion that received a monetary penalty was lower at 37% and 45% respectively. For cases involving offenders from ‘Other’ ethnicities, 59% resulted in fines and/or reparation as the most serious sentence.

Table 3.50 Total number of cases resulting in conviction, by most serious sentence imposed and ethnicity of the offender, 20061,2

 

NZ European

Maori

Pacific peoples

Other

Unknown Total
Most serious sentence No. % No. % No. % No. % No. No.
Custodial 3643 37 5298 53 723 7 256 3 549 10469
Community work 10256 41 12138 49 2072 8 450 2 2280 27196
Supervision 902 42 1003 47 210 10 35 2 93 2243
Monetary 22058 51 15559 36 4052 9 1789 4 8970 52428
Deferment 2108 41 2291 44 600 12 159 3 182 5340
Other 877 51 654 38 121 7 66 4 343 2061
Conviction & discharge 3845 37 5054 48 1322 13 274 3 1611 12106
Total 43689 45 41997 43 9100 9 3029 3 14028 111843

Notes

1 Note the comments in Section 1.5 on the way ethnicity data is collected, and the implications this has for data quality.

2 Column percentages were calculated excluding cases where ethnicity was not known.

Table A2 in Appendix A presents information on the ethnicity of offenders who received each type of sentence in 2005. 751 cases where a conviction was entered against a corporation were excluded from this table.[20] The proportion of Māori, NZ Europeans, and Pacific peoples receiving each type of sentence in 2005 was similar to the proportions found in 2006.

3.14 Summary of key findings

The key findings for this chapter are as follows:

  • Between 2004 and 2006, the number of convicted cases increased by 3%, from 109,017 to 112,774.
  • Between 1997 and 2002, 8% of convicted cases resulted in a custodial sentence. However, in 2003 9% of convicted cases did so, and between 2004 and 2006, an average of 10% of convicted cases each year had custodial sentences imposed.
  • During the decade, the proportion of custodial sentences imposed increased for violent offences, property, drug and miscellaneous offences. The proportion of custodial sentences decreased for offences against the administration of justice.
  • Between 1998 and 2003, the proportion of convicted cases resulting in a work-related community sentence declined. From 2004 to 2006, 23% to 24% of all cases resulted in a work-related community sentence being imposed as the most serious sentence.
  • Between 1997 and 2006, the proportion of work-related community sentences imposed generally declined for other offences against the person, offences against the administration of justice, property, drug and traffic offences.
  • During the decade, around half of all convicted cases resulted in the imposition of a monetary penalty.
  • The average length of custodial sentences imposed for property, drug and traffic offences generally increased during the decade.
  • In 2006, 10% of convicted cases involving males resulted in imprisonment compared to 5% of cases involving females.
  • Cases involving offenders aged 20 to 29 accounted for 41% of custodial sentences imposed during 2006, while cases involving those aged 14 to 19 comprised 13%.
  • In 2006, Māori offenders accounted for 53% of cases resulting in imprisonment. A further 37% of cases resulting in custodial sentences involved NZ European offenders, 7% involved Pacific offenders, and 3% involved offenders from other ethnic groups.
  • In 2006, 13% of convicted cases involving Māori offenders resulted in imprisonment, while 8% of cases involving NZ Europeans and Pacific peoples had custodial outcomes.

Footnotes

9 The sentences available to the courts changed over the decade. Section 3.2 describes these changes.

10 Sentence ranking was determined from factors such as the level of restriction and requirements placed on the offender. See Section 2.4 for further information of the calculation of seriousness scores.

11 Prior to 30 June 2002, these offenders could be sentenced to imprisonment, corrective training, periodic detention, or community service.

12 While the activation of prison sentences is not usually recorded in the data used for this report, the person is often imprisoned for the subsequent offence at the same time, which is recorded in the data.

13 In the most serious murder cases, where there is at least one aggravating factor, a life sentence must be imposed and the court must impose a minimum period of at least 17 years before the offender will be eligible for parole, unless it is satisfied that it would be manifestly unjust to do so. However, the court can impose a determinate sentence when unusual mitigating factors would make a life sentence clearly unjust (Ministry of Justice 2002).

14 The regime for release on home detention from a sentence of imprisonment outlined above was repealed on 1 October 2007. While not impacting on the interpretation of the data presented in this report, it is important to note that from 1 October 2007 a new custodial sentence of home detention and a new ‘residential restrictions’ special condition of parole came into force.

15 In some instances, the start date of a prison sentence could be deferred by the court for up to two months. This allowed the offender to apply to the Parole Board for home detention, and, if the application was granted, meant the person started home detention without serving any time in prison.

16 Only court-imposed fines are included in this report. Fines resulting from infringement notices (for example, speeding, parking offences, etc.) filed with the District Court for enforcement are not included.

17 Research investigating District Court Judges’ views on court-imposed fines conducted in 2001 found that some judges felt that the Sentencing Act 2002 would make little difference to current practice because they were already imposing a fine whenever possible. Other judges, however, were reluctant to see fines used more widely—mainly due to many offenders’ inability to pay. The study, which included a survey of all district judges (n=64), found that half of the participating judges said they would impose an alternative sentence in more than 50% of cases because the offender could not afford to pay the fine they would usually impose (Searle 2003).

18 The seriousness score groupings in the table have little inherent meaning, but are a useful way of categorising offences—see Section 2.4 for a description of the way these seriousness scores are calculated.

19 The table excludes three cases where a custodial sentence was imposed, but the location is unknown due to incorrect data coding.

20 Problems with the electronic transfer of 2005 ethnicity data were identified last year where a larger proportion of defendants had unknown ethnicity in their records than in previous years. While the problems were under investigation, the 2004 ethnicity data were presented in the 2005 report titled ‘Conviction and Sentencing of Offenders in New Zealand: 1996–2005’.