Cabinet members have received an "urgent plea" to stop clogging up the statute book with unnecessary new criminal offences.
The Justice minister Simon Hughes is worried that it is hard to keep track of what offences exist when similar crimes are spread across several laws. For example, if the Government wants to stop prisoners carrying certain items it would typically create a new law, when existing legislation banning phones could be amended.
Mr Hughes sent every Secretary of State a letter last week calling for prudence over introducing new criminal offences. At the end of this year Mr Hughes will publish figures on the number of new criminal offences that have been introduced in this Parliament, as well as those that have been removed or amended.
Mr Hughes said: "I wouldn't be surprised in the first year of using this comprehensive methodology if there is a net increase in offences across the UK since 2010."
A Whitehall source added: "This letter could be described as an 'urgent plea': let's try and keep the statute book as simple as possible."