The sentences handed down to convicted rioters by the courts have been more draconian than previously thought but nearly three-quarters of those appearing in court had criminal records.
However, the average jail terms handed down were two to three times longer than normal, according to the latest Ministry of Justice data.
The official statistics, released on Thursday, back up claims by the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, that a “hardcore of the criminal classes” were involved in the riots, with 73% of those put before the courts having previous criminal convictions — and one third of that number having served a prison sentence before.
Those with criminal records have an average of 15 offences each. Overall, 26% had served time in prison previously.
However, MoJ statisticians stressed that the latest sentencing data, up to Monday of this week, also shows that some people were being drawn into the criminal justice system for the first time.