CALLS have been made to threaten offenders with ‘a day or two in prison’ if they breach a community order to cut rates of re-offending.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) think tank, set up by Conservative cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, urged the government to consider the idea in a new report.
The report said that a third of people given community sentences re-offended within a year.
Community sentences, where an offender is spared jail, range from 300 hours unpaid work to voluntary addiction treatment or having to make amends to a victim.
The CSJ report found 17,066 people had their sentence in the community scrapped because they failed to comply with requirements.
And it said almost 28,000 offenders given community orders had at least 15 previous cautions or convictions.
CSJ deputy policy director Edward Boyd said: "Many prolific offenders are refusing to take their punishment and rehabilitation seriously and are getting away with it."
Community sentences can be given for crimes including criminal damage, benefit fraud and assault.
The idea is already widely used in America.
In twenty states, offenders who fail to turn up for community work can be imprisoned for up to three days.
Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, welcomed the idea.
He said: “I think it’s certainly something we should look at exploring.
“Community orders should never be a soft option and if people can’t stick to these orders then absolutely an alternative should be one or two days in prison, rather than a community order that they just ignore.
“I completely support it.”
The Ministry of Justice said it was determined to reduce re-offending.
Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: "Anyone who refuses to complete their community sentence can expect to be hauled back in front of a judge and face further punishment."