For immediate release 9:00 a.m. (AEDT) Thursday 24 January 2019
Nearly 15,000 people each year over the past three years have received a community correction order (CCO).
In 2017–18, 632 people were sentenced for committing 912 serious offences while serving a CCO, new findings show.
The findings are included in the Sentencing Advisory Council’s second report on the number of convictions for ‘serious offences’ committed by people on a CCO. Parliament requires the Council to report annually on this number.
The 632 people sentenced in 2017–18 can be compared with the 551 people sentenced in 2016–17. Although the number of people sentenced has increased, the rate of contravention has not changed. Only 1.6% of the almost 34,600 people who received a CCO in the three years to 30 June 2018 were sentenced in 2017–18 for a serious offence committed while serving a CCO. This is identical to the rate for people sentenced in 2016–17.
As in 2016–17, many of the serious offences committed by people serving a CCO involved threats of violence. The three most common types of serious offences committed on a CCO in 2017–18 were:
- make threat to kill (325 charges);
- make threat to inflict serious injury (172 charges); and
- aggravated burglary (154 charges).
A small number of very serious offences were also committed on a CCO including:
- murder (4 charges);
- manslaughter (2 charges); and
- rape (2 charges).
The median age of people sentenced for a serious offence while serving a CCO was 29 years. Ages ranged from 18 to 77 years. People aged 25 to 34 years were the largest age group (38.8%), and people aged 55 years and over were the smallest (1.9%). The vast majority of people sentenced were male (591 people or 93.5%).
Of those who committed a serious offence while on a CCO, just over half (53.6%) did so within the first six months of their CCO, and just over 80% did so within the first year of their CCO. This is an improvement on the outcomes for 2016–17 when 95% of people sentenced for a serious offence committed the offence within the first year of their CCO.
Council Chair Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg said, ‘The findings for 2017–18 are remarkably consistent with 2016–17. While there was a small increase in the number of people sentenced for a serious offence while on a CCO, the overall rate of serious offending remains low and is the same as 2016–17. The nature of the serious offending also remains very similar with threats of violence continuing to be the most common type of offending.’
Professor Freiberg further commented, ‘Initially, the maximum term of imprisonment that could be combined with a CCO was set at three months, but that was increased to two years in September 2014. An immediate increase in the use of this combined sentence resulted in an influx of higher risk offenders in the CCO population. In March 2017, the maximum term of imprisonment that could be combined with a CCO was reduced to one year. This should help reduce the number of higher risk offenders receiving combined sentences. It will be interesting to see if the number of people sentenced for serious offences while on a CCO decreases in the years to come as a result.’
About Serious Offences
Serious offences are defined by the Corrections Act 1986 (Vic) s 104(AA)(3) 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 report on serious offences committed on CCOs follows a 2015 amendment to the Corrections Act 1986 (Vic). Section 104AA(2) of the Act states that ‘[f]or 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’.