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Short suspended sentences fall

New laws have led to a dramatic drop in suspended sentences of less than six months in Switzerland.

The Federal Statistics Office said on Tuesday that in 2007 there had been a 99 per cent decrease on the previous year.

It said however that in 85 per cent of cases financial sanctions were imposed, adding that most were conditional and in combination with a mandatory fine.

The number of short prison sentences also decreased by 77 per cent, replaced largely by community service sentences.

Roughly four per cent of Switzerland's 82,961 convictions in 2007 resulted in charity work being assigned as a sentence.

The number of convictions registered in the criminal records fell by 17 per cent. The statistics office said there were various reasons for this, but the possibility that the trend was partly due to a slight reduction in criminality could not be excluded.