AROUND 34,000 criminals will be spared jail every year under a Government plan to scrap short sentences, a think-tank warns.
The number includes burglars, thieves and knife thugs.
Justice Secretary David Gauke has announced moves to end terms of less than six months — which he claims do not work.
They would be replaced by “robust” community orders.
But Civitas calculates this would result in non-custodial sentences for 99 per cent of shoplifters; 83 per cent of knife thugs and 58 per cent of burglars.
Almost all drink and drug drivers would also dodge jail, with just one in 2,000 getting locked up.
Only violent and sex offenders would still get shorter jail terms. Civitas showed that 34,000 criminals who were locked up in 2017 would avoid jail under the proposed change. About 30,000 of these would be repeat offenders.
It reports that the proposed move — to help reduce the prison population and drive down re-offending — risks “unleashing a crime wave”.
Report author Peter Cuthbertson says: “The Government must consider the evidence, rather than proceed with plans for an effective amnesty for burglars, shoplifters and other prolific criminals”.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are exploring more stringent and enforceable community sentences. This work is ongoing and we’ve reached no conclusions.”