More British criminals are returning to a life of crime within months of serving sentences than when the Labor Party came to power, according to official figures published yesterday.

Despite millions of pounds being spent to help offenders go straight, more than 57 per cent of adult offenders are convicted of another crime within two years of ending their sentence or starting a community penalty.


When Labour came to power, intent on ending the “revolving door” syndrome in which offenders are constantly in and out of jail or repeatedly given community sentences, the figure was 53.1 per cent.

However, the reoffending rate is now even worse, with two-thirds of men back in jail within two years of walking out of the prison gates. The rate is only slightly lower for females.

The figures are a severe blow to ministers who have invested millions of pounds on psychology-based courses, including anger management and enhanced thinking, aimed at curbing reoffending.

John Reid, the Home Secretary, said, just 24 hours before the Home Office published the figures, that reoffending remained too high and showed no signs of significant improvement.

Yesterday’s report shows that more than one third of offenders had reoffended within six months and almost half after one year. There has been no change in the overall reoffending rate since 2000.

The figures show that overall 65.8 per cent of men and women released from jail in the first quarter of 2003 had reoffended within two years. Among young men aged 18-20, the figure was more than 75 per cent.

More than half of offenders given a community sentence in the first quarter of 2003 were convicted of a further offence within two years.

A startling 86 per cent of those given drug treatment and testing orders reoffended within two years.

This figure reflects the difficulties involved in dealing with drug-abusing criminals.

Almost 85 per cent of those sentenced for theft from a vehicle are reconvicted within two years, while the figure is 73 per cent for household burglars and 57 per cent for robbers.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC, and Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Offender Management, said: “We are committed to working towards a reduction of 10 per cent by the end of the decade. We are implementing the National Offender Management Service to drive forward progress on re-offending.

“It will enable end-to-end offender management, so that the custodial and community supervision elements of an offender’s sentence are managed as a whole." Enver Solomon, deputy director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at Kings College, London said: “When six out of ten people are reconvicted, having either served a community sentence or spent time in prison, it surely raises the question about what difference criminal justice interventions make.”

He added: “After nearly ten years failing to meet their targets on reconviction, the Government should recognise that success is about addressing the multiple social and economic factors that contribute to crime rather than endlessly reforming the prison and probation services.”