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Prisoners Release

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners convicted of knife or gun-related offences served their full sentence in each of the last 10 years, broken down by type of crime. (227286)

It is not possible to identify those crimes in which a gun or a knife was used as these will be charged according to the generic offence, for example, murder, manslaughter, wounding, etc. The only statistics available are those for specific weapons related offences, which are largely for possession. The following table shows the number of persons sentenced to immediate custody for indictable offences relating to weapons.

All offenders sentenced to custody serve their full sentence as prescribed by law. A custodial sentence comprises two parts. The first part is spent in custody and the second part is served on licence in the community. In addition, some offenders subject to determinate sentences may benefit from the home detention curfew (HDC), early removal scheme (ERS) or end of custody licence (ECL) scheme, which provide for release earlier than the statutory release date of the sentence under certain circumstances. Certain violent offenders are presumed unsuitable for HDC unless there are exceptional circumstances and are ineligible for ECL. In addition, certain categories of prisoner are currently excluded from ERS, for example, extended sentence prisoners and those subject to sex offender registration. None of these schemes apply to prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence. These sentences do not have a statutory release date and release is determined by the Parole Board.

Persons sentenced1 to immediate custody for offences relating to weapons

Offence class

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Wounding etc.

Possession of firearms etc., with intent to endanger life

122

133

123

66

43

46

46

36

31

31

37

Using etc. firearms or imitation firearms with intent to resist arrest etc.

11

8

7

9

5

5

3

8

6

9

6

Other wounding, etc

Possession of offensive weapons without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

401

509

585

554

595

634

787

760

817

829

788

Possessing firearm or imitation firearm at time of committing or being arrested for an offence

12

13

28

23

36

38

46

50

36

39

52

Possessing firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit indictable offence

48

34

46

49

61

66

59

44

60

30

36

Possession of a firearm or imitation firearm, with intent to cause fear of violence

68

60

67

135

142

195

209

253

252

256

211

Having an article with a blade or point in a public place

56

372

550

534

499

589

766

755

803

965

1,065

Having an article with a blade or point on school premises

3

2

7

3

7

6

12

5

13

Possession of offensive weapons without lawful authority or reasonable excuse on school premises

1

4

5

3

6

3

5

4

4

3

3

Firearms Act

Possessing etc. firearms or ammunition without firearm certificate

180

167

110

85

55

61

55

97

92

63

74

Trading in firearms without being registered as a firearms dealer

1

1

1

1

1

Selling firearm to person without a certificate

1

4

1

1

1

1

2

Repairing, testing etc. firearm for person without a certificate

1

1

2

Shortening a shotgun or other smooth bore gun

10

9

4

4

4

1

Conversion of firearms

2

2

1

1

2

7

5

1

Possessing or distributing prohibited weapons or ammunition

108

107

171

138

143

131

176

216

252

242

212

Carrying loaded firearm in public place

31

31

32

17

20

17

31

37

33

29

23

Trespassing with firearm or imitation firearm in a building

1

2

4

2

1

2

Possession of firearms by persons previously convicted of crime

40

45

48

53

55

32

38

38

55

57

46

Failure to notify Police of deactivation, destruction or loss of firearms or ammunition

1

Possessing or distributing prohibited weapons designed for discharge of noxious liquid etc.

27

75

88

Possessing or distributing firearms disguised as other objects

1

Possessing or distributing other prohibited weapons

3

1

2

Knives Act

Unlawful marketing or selling of knives

1

1

Publication of any material likely to stimulate or encourage violent behaviour involving use of the knife as a weapon

2

All

All offences

1,092

1,503

1,779

1,676

1,669

1,826

2,235

2,312

2,492

2,641

2,662

1 Principal offence

Notes:

1. These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems.

2. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.

Source:

OMS Analytical Services, Ministry of Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners released in 2007 had served less than half of their custodial sentence. (228163)

No data are yet available on discharges from prison in 2007. The latest available data are for 2006. In 2006, 78,500 prisoners were released from prison of whom 13,666 were released earlier than the halfway point of their sentence under the Home Detention Curfew scheme. A number of foreign national prisoners subject to deportation would also have been removed early under the early removal scheme but figures on this for 2006 are not available. All other prisoners were discharged on or after the half way point of the sentence depending on the statutory release arrangements that applied to them.