London, Apr.8 (ANI): Seven in ten burglars are avoiding prison in the United Kingdom and one in four are being let off with a slap on the wrist. The alarming figures are a setback for ministers just a day after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced fresh support for victims of break-ins to secure their homes, reports The Telegraph.
The Tories have accused the Gordon Brown Government of putting pressure on householders to protect themselves rather than getting tough on the offenders.
Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said: "While Jacqui Smith is announcing gimmicks to try and tackle burglary, thousands of burglars are being let off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Victims are being denied justice, and ministers are sending out the message that the onus is on the householder to protect their home but not on the criminal justice system to enforce the law."
Ministry of Justice statistics show a total of 30,353 offenders were guilty of burglary, in either a dwelling or non-dwelling in 2007 but only 9,229 of them - 30 per cent - received an immediate custodial sentence.
In contrast, 7,678 were handed a caution, or one in four, meaning they were not even taken to court and cannot be ordered to pay compensation to their victims.
The figures relate to offenders of all ages but even one in eight adult burglars were given a caution in 2007 and less than half of those targeting residential dwellings were handed custody.
It came as Ms Smith claimed the average sentence for burglary is longer "than it was a few years ago". (ANI)