Should thieves be jailed?

Should thieves be jailed?

As the Sentencing Council is obliged to keep the public informed of such developments to sentencing policies in the justice system, we wanted to find out how UK adults would react to this policy if it were to be implemented.

Our research shows that over half (54%) of all UK adults would oppose this proposition, with 25% in strong opposition. Their rationale seems to lie in the scepticism of community service as a deterrent – three in five (62%) of those who would oppose this policy cited this to be their reason. This was followed by one in five (22%) who believe that all perpetrators of criminal activity should be imprisoned.

On the other hand, just over a quarter of all UK adults (27%) were in support of community service and fines over incarceration for these perpetrators, with those in the lower age brackets 10% more likely to share this sentiment than those who are older (33% of 18-34 year olds in support compared to 23% of 55+ year olds). A third (31%) of these adults would support the idea as they believe imprisonment is for more serious crimes, while 23% believe community service to be a good deterrent for pure property crimes.

Ashworth argued that these new measures would grossly reduce the prison population, which we found to be the main reason for one in four (25%) of those who would support the proposition. A further 16% cited the costs incurred to taxpayers as their motivation.

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,002 GB adults aged 18+ from the 20th – 23rd August 2013. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

Interview Method and Sample

This survey is conducted online by CAWI (computer aided web interviewing), using Opinium?s online research panel of circa 30,000 individuals. This research is run from a representative sample of GB adults (aged 18+ in England, Scotland and Wales). The sample is defined from pre-collected registration data containing gender, age (18-34, 35-54, and 55+), region (North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, London, South East, South West, Wales, and Scotland), working status and social grade to match the latest published ONS figures.

Opinium also takes into account differential response rates from the different demographic groups, to ensure the sample is representative.