MORE than 90 per cent of criminals convicted from Hartlepool and East Durham avoided prison, according to new figures.
In the Cleveland Police area there were 15,701 convicted people who avoided a prison sentence, while in the Durham Police area there were 11,571 in 2012.
In Cleveland it accounted for 92.6 per cent of all people sentenced, and in Durham it stood at 92.2 per cent.
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.”
Nationally, 76,802 criminals found guilty of at least their sixth offence in 2012 avoided prison, 36,028 were not jailed despite 15 or more previous offences and 16,232 avoided prison despite 25 or more previous offences, the data obtained under freedom of information laws revealed.
A criminal also avoided jail despite having more than 300 offences to his name,
The study found that nationally 2,098 offenders found guilty of a crime in 2012 were not jailed despite 50 or more previous offences, the figures showed, while 409 avoided prison after 75 or more previous offences.
Elsewhere, the data shows 121 avoided prison after 100 or more previous offences, 36 were not jailed after 150 or more previous offences, eight avoided prison after 200 or more previous offences, four were not jailed after 250 or more previous offences and one avoided prison despite having 300 or more previous offences.