West Midlands Police are sending the cards to career criminals including burglars, robbers and car thieves living in the region, in the hope that it will prick their consciences.

In the past, other police forces have posted cards in an attempt to bring down the number of thefts which happen at this time of year.

The cards will be mailed in the coming days, and vary depending on whether the criminals are single, or have their own family.

For those with a family, the card’s cover features the face of a sad young child gazing out.

It reads: “All I want for Christmas is for you to be there.”

Meanwhile, for those who are single the card’s cover shows an empty setting at a Christmas dinner table with the words: “All we want for Christmas is for you to be there.”

Inside, both carry the message: “All the presents in the world won’t make up for your lack of presence.”

The cards include contact details for police officers working in the specialised integrated offender management (IOM) teams, whose job it is to help criminals with a host of previous offences to their name to move away from a life of crime.

Chief Superintendent Neil Evans, who leads the IOM teams, said: “The people we deal with are given a very simple choice.

“Work with police and partner agencies to help them break free from crime or we will work to catch and convict them, resulting in them spending time in prison.”