The number of repossession orders made in the early part of the year has risen by almost a quarter, according to new figures.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs statistics showed there was a rise of almost 25 per cent in orders made in the first quarter of 2005 compared to the same period last year.

The number of applications for an order from mortgage lenders has also risen by just over 35 per cent in the same period. Total orders made were: Gloucestershire, 90; Herefordshire & Worcestershire, 161; Shropshire, 98; Staffordshire, 258; Warwickshire, 169; and West Midlands, 953.

The figures do not reflect the actual number of repossessions - even after an order has been made, a person can still settle their debts.

Although house repossession makes up a bulk of the figures, they also include statistics for premises such as retail outlets.

The research also showed that more than 56 per cent of orders made were suspended, meaning judges allowed a period of time for possible negotiations between the parties.

During the first quarter, 25 , 869 repossession actions were entered by lenders with 14,048 repossession orders made by courts - 7,917 of which were suspended orders.