A WEARSIDE campaigner has called for tougher sentences to reduce the scale of offenders avoiding jail terms.
John Johnson has spoken out after a report that reveals criminals have a greater chance of avoiding prison in the North East compared to anywhere else in the country.
In the Northumbria area, 96 per cent of offenders or 46,647 people, who received a sentence in courts during 2012, avoided going to prison – the highest in the country.
Many of these include repeat offenders who have been brought before the court more than once.
John Johnson, 62, and his wife Kath, 63, have campaigned for tougher sentences since their son Kevin, 22, was murdered by Jordan Towers, then 16, Tony Hawkes, then 17, and Dean Curtis, then 18, in Pennywell in May 2007.
Mr Johnson, of Ryhope, believes criminals will continue to walk free until there is a change in legislation.
He added: “I have spoken to a number of judges and they want to jail these people but their hands are tied by legislation.
“Until changes are made by the Government this type of thing will continue to happen.
“It is upsetting for families of victims to see criminals walking free from court time and time again.”
Peter Cuthbertson, author of the new report and Director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “The courts are utterly failing to show they take crime seriously.
“Prison is the only sure way to protect the public from hardened criminals. The most prolific offenders are responsible for a growing percentage of all crime, and locking them up would have a massive impact on the crime rate.
The report also found when a repeat offender is convicted, their chance of avoiding prison is 50 per cent – until they have committed 100 offences.