Around 9,000 offenders were given a suspended sentence despite previous convictions or criminal record, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
The Centre for Crime Prevention (CCP) found 9,052 offenders were given a suspended sentence in 2012/13, despite having 15 or more previous convictions or cautions.
Another 11,670 criminals received suspended jail sentences despite a criminal record of 10 previous convictions or cautions.
CCP's research also shows almost one in three - or 31% - of prison sentences were suspended in 2012, up from 2% in 2002.
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Police said the child, who was without a driving licence, was trying to make his way 2,500 miles from the east coast to Perth.
The 24-year-old was charged with 14 counts of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and one count of throwing a corrosive fluid.
Winds will veer northerly overnight with colder air streaming in over the next few days.