RISING numbers of convicts in Wigan are returning to a life of crime within months of serving jail or community sentences, latest figures reveal.
A study of more than 4,000 criminals released in the borough in 2010/11 has revealed almost 10 per cent went on to reoffend – a 12 per cent increase on the figures from three years earlier in 2007/08.
According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the rise in reoffending rates in Wigan is the highest in Greater Manchester, and the third highest in the North West.
However, the Greater Manchester Probation Trust (GMPT) today defended the figures and stressed that 83.8 per cent of offenders in Wigan completed their orders and licences successfully in June, which exceeded the national target of 70 per cent.
Angie Buckley, GMPT assistant chief executive for Wigan, said: “While any increase in offending rates is to be regretted, it must be remembered that Wigan remains a high performing area and that Greater Manchester is one of the country’s top 10 performing probation trusts.
“Our task remains to work with the local authority, police and other partners to reduce reoffending and make the community safer. This will always be our target, and we are proud of the efforts we have made towards achieving this.”
More than 1,120 people are currently being supervised by the probation service in Wigan, both on court orders and on licence from prison.
The Government publishes quarterly reports on probation services across the country including reoffending rates.
The study into local reoffending rates in Wigan looked at 4,029 offenders under probation supervision between April 2010 and March 2011.
Marks were given on categories including the number of offenders completing court orders and custodial licences successfully, as well as the speed of enforcement action and return to custody when offenders fail to comply.
According to MoJ statistics, 9.83 per cent of criminals in Wigan went on to commit further crimes in 2010/11 – above the predicted rate of 8.78 per cent.
Wigan’s rate was the fifth lowest in Greater Manchester and fared better than neighbouring Bolton, with a reoffending rate of 10.51 per cent.
GMPT say reoffending figures can be affected every quarter by a number of factors, including a change in the speed of processing cases in courts.