A quarter of boys aged 14 to 17 can be classified as prolific or serious offenders, according to a Home Office study published yesterday.

The 2003 crime and justice survey suggests that there are 3.8 million "active offenders" at any one time in England and Wales. This is as many as one in 10 of the male population aged 10 to 65 and is a far higher estimate of the size of the "criminal classes" than any previous study.
But the research confirms that most grow out of crime, and that a small minority of the most prolific offenders are responsible for most crime.

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