Community Sentences Digest highlights that in 2007, 162,648 people started court orders in the community, the highest ever recorded number. It represents a 36 per cent increase in the decade since 1997. The orders include both community sentences and Suspended Sentence Orders.
The report states: 'Prison overcrowding is a well-known fact. What is less well known is that community sentence caseloads are also overcrowded. The effect is far less graphic than images of overcrowded jails but the impact is equally damaging'. Furthermore, that the ratio of offenders to qualiﬁed probation ofﬁcers has risen from 31:1 to 40:1, with staff supervising caseloads which are, on average, much larger than those of practitioners in youth offending teams. It also highlights high sickness levels amongst the probation workforce. In 2007-2008, the average number of sick days for each employee was 12.1, one of the highest in the public sector.