More than 160 violent criminals and sex offenders are at large in the community despite breaching the terms of their release or committing another offence, figures showed today.

Some 18 killers – 16 of them murderers, 10 rapists and at least four paedophiles – are among more than 960 criminals who have been recalled to prison but have not yet been put back behind bars.

The Ministry of Justice figures for October to December last year showed 92 of the 4,017 offenders recalled to jail in that time had not been returned.

They remained free with a further 870 offenders who have still not been returned despite being recalled before October.

Of the 962 offenders who remained free, 361 have been on the run for more than five years, the figures showed.

A further 280 have been on the run for between two and five years.

Those who remain at large include 128 offenders guilty of violence against the person and 35 sex offenders, including four convicted of child sex offences, as well as 124 burglars and 109 robbers.

Most of these offenders (403) were being managed by the criminal justice board in London, while 94 were in the West Midlands, 44 in Greater Manchester and 35 in Merseyside.