ALMOST half of young offenders in Warrington commit a further offence within a year, according to a report by the Ministry of Justice.

From October 2015 to September 2016, 81 young offenders either left custody, received a non-custodial conviction or were handed a caution – 40 of those were convicted of another crime within 12 months.

The 81 young criminals, all aged under 18, had a total of 419 previous convictions between them.

This is line with national figures.

In England and Wales, 42 per cent of juvenile offenders committed another crime within a year.

But the Ministry of Justice has warned that, since the figures only measure offences resulting in convictions or cautions, this could be a significant underestimate of the true level of reoffending.

In Warrington 27 per cent of 1,812 adult offenders reoffended over the same period. Nationally, 29 per cent of adults reoffended.

Youth justice practitioner on the Law Society criminal law committee, Greg Stewart, said that the way that juvenile crime is handled could be behind the high reoffending rate.

He added: "As a result, those young people who are left still offending are the 'kernel' of offenders, often with complex and compound issues and serious problems at home and school."

Rory Geoghegan, head of criminal justice at independent think-tank the Centre for Social Justice, added that if a young person ends up in the criminal justice system, rehabilitation programs that foster strong community links can also prevent reoffending.

He said: "We can make better use of the time served on a sentence by plugging young people into positive and trusted networks and organisations, such as community centres and youth organisations."