Criminals are being handed up to 10 suspended sentences at a time before they are finally put in prison, new figures have revealed.
The numbers have sparked concerns that career criminals are being left to walk the streets of Britain.
Police national computer records show that criminals at crown courts, which hear the most serious cases, had up to eight suspended sentences before being put behind bars.
And in the magistrates' courts, which usually hear less serious matters, criminals had up to 10 suspended sentences without being put in prison, according to figures up until December 31 2015 and released by the Ministry of Justice.
Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering and a former special constable with British Transport Police, said: "I think most people would be horrified that a criminal needs to get so many suspended sentences before they actually end up in jail.
"The way to crack down on crime is to ensure that career criminals are put in prison as early as possible, not as late as possible, because they will then be unable to commit further crimes whilst inside."
The figures emerged in a parliamentary question asked by Shipley's Conservative MP Philip Davies, who sits on the Justice Committee.
Justice minister Dominic Raab, in his reply, told Davies: "Where the court imposes a custodial sentence of two years or less it may suspend the sentence, for up to two years, and also impose one or more community requirements."
He added: "Repeat offenders can expect to go straight to prison if they commit a serious offence. Offenders serving suspended custodial sentences, however, have a lower re-offending rate than offenders serving immediate, short custodial sentences."