Two in three prisoners released from serving short sentences at HMP Norwich go on to commit more crimes, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice.

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Of the inmates released in 2010 after serving sentences of less than one year, 562 prisoners, 65pc, have gone on to reoffend.

The reoffending rates show a fall of 3pc from 2007, but a rise of 2pc on 2009.

Trish Phillips, from HMP Norwich’s independent monitoring board (IMB), described the figure as “very depressing”, but she said the prison was focusing on finding prisoners homes and a job after they left the Knox Road jail.

She said: “There is much more of an emphasis on resettlement and trying to get offenders some sort of job and trying to deal with the problem that might have got them in to prison in the first place.

“They are far less likely to reoffend if stabilised.”

The prison has worked with Chapelfield Shopping Centre, in Norwich, since 2009 in a much-praised scheme to get offenders work experience.

Out of the 122 prisoners who have taken part in the project, Chapelfield officials say more than 90 have secured jobs while only 3.2pc – around four people – have reoffended since their release.

The national reoffending rate within 12 months of release is 27pc, according to government figures.

By setting up a bank account and an appointment with the NHS for after the inmate gets out, the prison hopes reoffending rates will continue to fall.

The IMB’s annual report found the prison was working hard to get prisoners trained and find them jobs, but said it was proving tough with the economy struggling.

The reoffending rate for prisoners serving sentences of more than one year was much lower at 41pc for those released in 2010, which was a slight rise from 37pc in 2007.

Mrs Phillips said the large difference between short and long term prisoners’ reoffending rates was down to the time it took to get prisoners trained and rehabilitated.

At HMP Wayland 55pc – 38 prisoners – released from short-term sentences in 2010 have gone on to commit more crimes.

The figure fell by almost 9pc compared to 2009. Heidi Ashman from the prison said the success was down to alcohol, drug and rehabilitation programmes.

Prisoners also have sessions with a psychiatrist, teaching them to think before they act and how they can stop themselves from committing crimes.

tom.bristow@archant.co.uk

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