THREE in 10 Wigan criminals given jail sentences don’t go to prison, latest figures reveal.
Information released by the Centre for Crime Information show that 30 per cent of custodial sentences handed down in court are suspended.
The statistics were released just months after Vitalijs Zavjalovs was spared jail for a violent attack caught on film when he kicked another man in the face as he bent down to tie his shoelaces, knocking him out cold.
The failure to lock him up after such a shocking attack prompted a public outcry after CCTV coverage of the unprovoked assault was published.
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court showed leniency to the 22-year-old Zavjalovs because it was his first offence, he had pleaded guilty to the charge of assault by beating and his victim, Brian Gallagher, had been lucky enough to suffer only a relatively minor injury.
In the Centre for Crime Prevention report, it says nationally in 2012/13 11,670 serious offenders had their prison sentence suspended despite more than 10 previous convictions.
The centre’s director Peter Cuthbertson said the sentencing puts the public at “great risk”.
He added: “Wigan and the Greater Manchester area have particularly high figures, with 3,000 prison sentences suspended a year.
“That is 32 per cent of all prison sentences.
“Wigan recently saw a thug receive a suspended sentence for kicking a complete stranger in the head as he tied his shoelaces.
“This kind of soft sentencing puts the public at great risk and should be scaled back in favour of tougher punishments.”
CCTV footage, taken from Wigan town centre cameras on the night of December 7 last year, showed Zavjalovs strike Mr Gallagher after leaving a King Street club causing him to fall backwards “knocking him out” and causing cuts to his face and lips.
In 2002, a total of 119 suspended sentences were given to people across Greater Manchester with existing criminal records.
By 2012 this had increased to 3,010, 32 per cent of all sentencing.
Nationally in 2002 two per cent (2,519) of all prison sentences were suspended. But by 2012 this had risen to 44,644 - 31 per cent.
For sex offences the figure had risen from 58 to 488 and for burglaries, 788 to 7,288.