More offenders go to prison in Hampshire

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MAGISTRATES in Hampshire are more likely to send someone to prison compared to courts in other parts of the country, according to figures from a national charity.

Figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform show a disparity between sentencing rates in different parts of England and Wales.

Hampshire courts imposed custodial sentences in 3.9 per cent of the cases they heard in 2011 – compared to 1.5 per cent in Warwickshire and 1.6 per cent in Northumbria.

The national average was 3.8 per cent. Overall the numbers have fallen from the previous year.

County magistrates handed 35,025 sentences to men, women and children during 2011, of which 1,375 were custodial.

Charity chief executive Frances Crook said: ‘Community sentences are much cheaper than custody and they deliver better results.

‘They not only address a person’s offending, but allow them to access other services they need, such as help with drink, drugs or mental health problems.’

Magistrates can impose is a six-month prison term, or up to 12 months for more than one offence.