Half of London's prison population is dyslexic, according to new research, prompting campaigners to blame teachers for failing to spot the disability at school.
Researchers pointed to a strong link between dyslexia and failure at school, leading to a rapid descent into crime.
The London Offender Study discovered 52 per cent of a random sample of 150 prisoners were dyslexic, many of them severely so. In contrast, only 10 to 14 per cent of the total UK population is dyslexic.
The research was carried out by the Dyspel Project, which held a conference in London this week to discuss the findings. Delegates were told that re-offending rates can be cut by 25 per cent by tackling dyslexia problems among prisoners.
Probation officer Wally Morgan, a co-founder of Dyspel, said: "Too often, a teacher will deny the dyslexia and will belittle the child by insisting they are simply not trying, are stupid, or not concentrating."
Paul Cavadino, principal officer of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO), said: "In many cases there is a strong connection between dyslexia, school failure and crime. Giving educational support to dyslexic offenders increases their chances of leading a law-abiding life."
Dyspel is running a pilot project to teach dyslexic offenders to cope with their disability. Of the first 50 participants in the pilot, many of whom were drug abusers, 14 are receiving individual tuition, 13 have progressed to college study and four are in full-time employment. Five have re-offended in the first two years.
* A study carried out in Swedish jails showed 38 per cent of inmates were dyslexic.