New analysis of crime figures by a national research centre appears to back claims by Shipley MP Philip Davies that too many serious offenders are dodging jail.
Research by campaign group the Centre For Crime Prevention published today shows that last year some 29,000 criminals avoided prison despite 25 or more previous convictions.
And some criminals even avoided prison despite 300 or more previous convictions or cautions.
Data obtained through Freedom of Information requests shows that almost 112,000 criminals found guilty of at least their sixth offence in 2012 avoided prison.
More than 55,000 were not sent to jail despite 15 or more previous offences – and slightly fewer than 29,000 avoided prison despite 25 or more previous offences.
Peter Cuthbertson, author of the report and director of the Centre For Crime Prevention, said: “The courts are utterly failing to show they take crime seriously.
“Prison is the only sure way to protect the public from hardened criminals. The most prolific offenders are responsible for a growing percentage of all crime, and locking them up would have a massive impact on the crime rate.
“New Zealand recently fought rising crime by letting criminals know that it is ‘three strikes and you’re out’.
“In Britain, we don’t even have 300 strikes and you’re out.”
Menston and Burley-in-Wharfedale MP Mr Davies has long campaigned for harsher sentences and recently revealed that more than 240 serious criminals walk free from courts every day, while only 28 are jailed.
Reacting to the Centre For Crime Prevention study, Mr Davies said: “The police do their job, the Crown Prosecution Service does its job and then everyone is let down by the courts.
“Those who re-offend time and time again get nothing more than a slap on the wrist – it’s an absolute scandal.”
The investigation also supported Mr Davies’ findings in concluding that contrary to claims that women are treated more harshly by the courts, male criminals with either one or two previous convictions or cautions are more than twice as likely as women criminals to go to prison.
Male criminals are also 76 per cent more likely to go to prison after seven previous offences; 34 per cent more likely to go to prison after 30-39 previous offences; and nine per cent more likely to go to prison after 50 to 59 previous offences.