Reoffending rates reach record level

Prisoner behind bars Serious offenders: Rise in the number of repeat criminals since 2001

A record number of offenders sentenced for serious crimes had committed previous offences, according to figures for 2011.

Some 90% of those sentenced in England and Wales had offended before - and almost a third had committed or were linked to 15 or more crimes.

Reoffending rates were highest among serious offenders who had been jailed.

Ministry of Justice officials say the figures show a "clear trend" of a rising re-offending rate.

The figures show that almost 46% of adults jailed last year had at least 15 previous convictions or cautions - some 38,000 offenders overall. In 2001, fewer than 30% of those sent to jail had the same number of previous convictions.

Taking all offenders together, not just those who were jailed, the figures show that a third had 15 or more previous convictions - approximately 102,000 people.


  • 2001: 29% of offenders
  • 2006: 38% of offenders
  • 2009: 40% of offenders
  • 2011: 44% of offenders

The Ministry of Justice figures also show an increase in average prison sentences and a rise in the use of cautions for sex offences.

Separate figures show that one in eight offenders who pleaded guilty on or after the first day of a trial received the maximum sentence discount possible, of a third or more.

During 2011, the criminal justice system dealt with two million offenders - down by more than 100,000 on the previous year.

Some 208,000 of those were "first-time entrants" to the criminal justice system, a 10% fall on the previous year - and down almost 40% since 2006. Approximately 1.3m of all the offenders received a conviction at court.

The average jail sentence given in 2011 was 14.7 months - one month more than the previous year. Statisticians say that the rise has been driven by change in the mix of cases and a general trend towards longer sentences.

The figures also show a continued fall in the number of on-the-spot fines handed out by police for minor crimes. Some 127,000 fixed penalties of £50 or £80 were handed down in 2011, down 9% on the year before - and almost 40% lower than a peak in 2007.

Four offences accounted for almost all the on-the-spot fines handed out. Police handed out just over a quarter of the fines for shoplifting or being drunk and disorderly. A fifth of the fines related to behaviour which alarmed others. Almost 13% were for possessing cannabis.

More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.