A criminal avoided jail despite having more than 300 offences to his name, fresh figures have revealed.
Some 76,802 criminals found guilty of at least their sixth offence in 2012 avoided prison, according to figures obtained by campaign group the Centre for Crime Prevention.
Some 36,028 were not jailed despite 15 or more previous offences and just under 16,232 avoided prison despite 25 or more previous offences, the data obtained under freedom of information laws revealed.
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."
Some 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 after 300 or more previous offences.