More than a third of convicted criminals in Scarborough reoffend within a year, official statistics show – one of the highest rates in England and Wales.
Prison reform advocates warn that a revolving door of short sentences for repeat offenders has led to cramped jails and a multi-billion pound bill for taxpayers.
Ministry of Justice figures reveal that 37% of the 1,287 adults released from prison, cautioned or handed a non-custodial conviction at court between October 2016 and September 2017 in Scarborough committed at least one further crime within 12 months.
Between them, the 475 reoffenders racked up 2,122 new offences – an average of four each.
They had each committed 26 previous crimes on average, according to the data.
The reoffending rate was much higher among children.
Of the 91 offenders aged under 18 in Scarborough, 49 (54%) carried out another crime in the year following a court conviction, caution, reprimand or warning.
Reoffending rates also vary considerably depending on both the type of offence and length of sentence.
They have remained high, at around 62%, for adults released from prison sentences less than 12 months.
Citing this high rate of reoffending, former justice secretary David Gauke called for short jail terms to be scrapped earlier this year.
The chief probation inspector, Dame Glenys Stacey, has also criticised the “expensive merry-go-round”, but stressed that scrapping short sentences would not reduce reoffending on its own.
The MoJ said while the youth reoffending rate has increased slightly over the last decade, the number of children entering the justice system has dropped dramatically.
A spokeswoman added: “Reoffending creates more victims of crime and costs society over £18 billion a year – that’s why we’re creating a system that can rehabilitate offenders while ensuring robust monitoring takes place in the community.
“In order to achieve this we are giving offenders the skills and support they need to succeed in the outside world, while our probation reforms will make sure licence conditions are enforced consistently.”
Article by data reporter Alex Shaw.