"YOU'RE nicked" - those are the first words that some convicted criminals will hear when they are released from prison under a new scheme run by York police.

When the city's most prolific or dangerous criminals come to the end of a stint behind bars they may expect to be greeted by their friends and family - but some can expect a less friendly welcome from the Catch And Convict unit.

When a criminal is sentenced for an offence they are given the chance to tell police about any other crimes they may have committed and have them "taken into consideration" as part of that sentence.

But those who don't make the most of that opportunity risk police finding out about the other crimes while they are behind bars. They are then arrested at the prison gates as soon as they are released and taken straight back to the cells at Fulford Road police station, where they are questioned.

Detective Sergeant Wilson, who is part of the Catch And Convict team, said: "We arrest them at the gates. Before they get to their friends or family who are there to collect them, they are greeted by our officers and brought straight back to the police station.

"It's not very popular with the prisoners, as you can imagine.

"They think they are getting out and then and then they see some familiar faces at the gate that aren't the ones they were hoping to see."

The scheme is the first of its kind in the county and was set up to deal with the city's most prolific and priority offenders - those who cause the most problems either by committing serious offences or a lot of them.

It is being run by the police's Catch And Convict unit, which is made up of 12 officers and was set up in September last year. So far it has dealt with 195 of the city's worst offenders for more than 400 offences - including robbery, wounding with intent and house burglary.

Sgt Wilson said a number of York's most prolific criminals were behind bars as a result - leading to a drop in crime.

He said: "There are some who you put away and you see a dramatic drop in auto crime, disorder or violent crime in certain areas."

When offenders are sentenced they are given the chance to admit to any other crimes they have committed "taken into consideration".

This allows them to have a clean slate when they finish serving that sentence and means police officers can tell the victims of those crimes who the offenders are, and give them closure.

But, Det Sgt Wilson said: "Offenders who do not take advantage of this offer can expect a warm welcome when they get to the prison gates on their release - from police officer."

In the first 10 days of the scheme officers arrested two offenders as soon as they were released from prison, because further offences have come to light after they were sentenced. As a result both men have been charged to appear at court for a total of five offences including using violence and burglary.

"Investigations into the actions of persistent offenders do not stop just because they are in prison," Sgt Wilson said. "We actively target them and look for offences that they have committed.