Days before the anniversary of the disorder, official figures show that 44 per cent of riot suspects have been arrested on suspicion of committing fresh offences within the last 12 months.
The statistics, released under the Freedom of Information Act, have raised serious questions over the penalties handed out to offenders.
More than half of those locked up over the riots are already free and thousands more have evaded justice. Police in Nottingham made 143 arrests following the disorder in August last year. Of these, 86 were charged.
But in the last 12 months, 72 suspects – half of those arrested – have been held again for crimes including rape, arson, robbery, threats to kill and breaching bail or parole conditions.
The force said some of these offenders had been arrested for multiple crimes since their release.
Yesterday, Dr David Green, of think-tank Civitas, said: ‘This is a reaffirmation that nothing has changed after the rhetoric.
‘I think the picture is that a lot of people who were arrested and charged and found guilty were already serious criminals.
‘This is a reminder that in this country we do not punish our career criminals properly.
‘They are allowed to go in and out of jail and this just reaffirms that we are continuing the same bad practice. If you punish them lightly you will get more crime.’
The figures come days before the anniversary of the riots, which started in London on August 6 last year and quickly spread around the country over four days of violence and looting. Official figures show that 1,968 people were sentenced for their involvement in the riots.
As of last month, 1,292 of them had been jailed but some 700 – including burglars, thieves and violent thugs – have already been released.
And 676 were let off with community punishments, suspended sentences, fines or saw their crimes ‘discharged’ by the courts.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Nearly 1,300 people were sentenced to immediate custody with an average prison term of more than 16 months each and a high number receiving far longer sentences.
‘If people go on to commit further offences their previous crimes will be taken into account, and they could find themselves facing even longer prison sentences.’