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Prolific offender numbers increase
The number of criminals with 15 or more previous convictions or cautions has steadily risen in the last decade to one in three, figures show.
A third of criminals convicted of serious offences last year were prolific offenders, compared with one in five, or 19.4%, in 2002, the Ministry of Justice said.
The number of criminals convicted in magistrates' courts with 15 or more earlier convictions or cautions has also risen in the same period from one in 10 to one in five.
The figures also revealed that one in five serious offenders with 15 or more previous convictions or cautions were given a community sentence, although this number has fallen.