The challenge faced by the Government in tackling reoffending was underlined today by figures that revealed a further rise in the number of criminals returning to crime.
More than one in four criminals reoffended within a year, according to the most recent Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures, committing 500,000 offences between them.
This equates to a reoffending rate of 26.8 per cent, up from 26.3 per cent in the previous set of figures.
Around 280,000 offences were committed by criminals with 11 or more previous offences, while more than 50,000 of these were committed by nearly 11,000 criminals who had previously been jailed at least 11 times.
There was also a notable rise in the proportion of criminals handed prison sentences of less than 12 months who reoffend, which increased from 56.6 per cent to 57.8 per cent.
The figures for the period between April 2010 and March 2011 come after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling unveiled a major shake-up of rehabilitation.
Lower-risk offenders are to be supervised by private firms and charities on a payment by results basis, while prisoners serving sentences under 12 months will be forced to undertake a period of rehabilitation upon release for the first time.
Mr Grayling said: "These figures underline why transforming the way we rehabilitate offenders is now a big priority for us. Reoffending rates have barely changed in a decade, and are now rising.
"We are now pressing ahead with major reforms that are designed to tackle this unacceptable problem."
A total of 495,162 offences were committed by 171,949 offenders, 82% of whom were adults, within a year of them being released from jail, convicted, cautioned or warned over drugs in the period.
Some 3,300 were serious violent or sexual offences by 2,800 offenders.
For criminals leaving jail, the reoffending rate was 47.2 per cent in the period, up from 46.9 per cent the previous year.
The biggest increases in re-offending were among juvenile females and 40 to 49-year-olds.
The biggest falls in re-offending were among adult females, 21 to 24-year-olds, adults who received court orders and adults who received prison sentences between 12 months and four years.