Embargoed until 00:01 a.m. (AEST) Thursday 8 April 2021
A report released today by the Sentencing Advisory Council finds 1.7% of people serving a community correction order (CCO) were sentenced in the four years to 30 June 2020 for a serious offence committed while serving their CCO.
The rate of serious offending by people on a CCO has remained remarkably consistent since the Sentencing Advisory Council began analysing these figures in 2016–17.
However, the report finds a growing number of people are being sentenced for serious offences committed while serving a CCO that was combined with imprisonment (a ‘combined order’).
After relatively steady numbers over the four years to 2018–19, there was a 20% decrease in the number of CCOs imposed by Victoria’s courts in 2019–20 (a decrease of 3,000 people from a peak of 15,000), and a corresponding decrease in the number of people sentenced for serious offending while on a CCO (down 10%). This is most likely due to the effect of COVID-19 on court operations.
The decrease in the number of people on a CCO and the number of people sentenced for serious offending while on a CCO did not translate into a decrease in the rate of people sentenced for committing a serious offence while on a CCO. The rate remained relatively low and steady at 1.7% over the four years to 30 June 2020.
While the overall rate for 2019–20 was also around 1.7%, there was an increase in the percentage of people sentenced for committing a serious offence while on a combined order. The percentage increased from 17.3% (of 551 people sentenced in 2016–17) to 38.9% (of 584 people sentenced in 2019–20).
The types of serious offences that people commit while serving a CCO have also remained remarkably consistent since 2016–17.
The three most common serious offences sentenced in 2019–20 for people serving a CCO were the same as in the three previous years:
- make threat to kill (280 charges)
- make threat to inflict serious injury (158 charges)
- aggravated burglary (127 charges).
People on a CCO committed a small number of very serious offences sentenced in 2019–20, including:
- murder (2 charges)
- manslaughter (2 charges)
- rape (2 charges).
Comments attributable to Council Chair Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg AM:
‘The findings for 2019–20 show a drop in the number of people being sentenced in Victoria to a CCO, and a corresponding drop in the number committing a serious offence while on the CCO.
‘However, there is a continued increase in the number and rate of people committing serious offences after serving a period of imprisonment as part of a combined order. These offenders tend to be the higher risk offenders in the CCO population, so while troubling, it is perhaps not overly surprising.’
The full report, Serious Offending by People Serving a Community Correction Order: 2019–20 will be available for download from the Sentencing Advisory Council’s website from Thursday 8 April 2021.
This is the Sentencing Advisory Council’s fourth report on serious offending committed by people serving a CCO.
About Combined Orders
A CCO may be combined with a maximum term of imprisonment of one year. The CCO commences once the offender has served their term in prison.
About Serious Offences
Serious offences are defined by section 104(AA)(3) of the Corrections Act 1986 (Vic) to include ‘serious violent offences’ (such as armed robbery, aggravated burglary, make threat to kill and intentionally causing serious injury) and ‘sexual offences’ (such as rape and sexual assault).
The Sentencing Advisory Council’s requirement to regularly report on serious offences committed by people serving a CCO follows a 2015 amendment to the Corrections Act 1986 (Vic). Section 104AA(2) states that: ‘for each financial year commencing on or after 1 July 2016, the Sentencing Advisory Council must report for that year the number of persons convicted during that year of a serious offence committed while subject to a community correction order’.