Prisoners could spend more time out of jail under plans to fit them with state-of-the-art electronic tags.
The satellite-tracking devices – which use the same GPS technology as a car’s sat-nav – would allow officials to monitor serious offenders such as killers, sex attackers and robbers every minute of the day.
Critics warn the proposals being considered by Justice Secretary Michael Gove could lead to ‘part-time prisoners’.
The Ministry of Justice currently uses basic radio tagging equipment that only confirms if a person is at a designated address during a night curfew. But the proposed devices would use GPS (file image of basic tag)
The Ministry of Justice currently uses more basic radio tagging equipment that only confirms if a person is at a designated address during a night-time curfew.
Bringing in satellite tags could result in more prisoners being let out on day release, having their sentences reduced or even freed during the week and returning to their cells at weekends.
It would help lower the population in overcrowded jails and cut the taxpayers’ bill for keeping criminals locked up – £33,000 each per day.
Critics warn the proposals being considered by Justice Secretary Michael Gove (pictured) could lead to ‘part-time prisoners’
But Tory MP Philip Davies, a member of the Justice Select Committee, said: ‘It is already an absolute scandal that prisoners only serve half of their sentence. To let them out earlier would be unacceptable.
‘We went into the 2010 election promising voters that prisoners would serve their sentences in full.
‘We have gone from that to the prospect of having part-time prisoners.
‘This is flying in the face of the rule of law. Voters will be entitled to ask if Michael Gove has taken leave of his senses.’
Electronic tags are used for 100,000 convicts a year on home detention curfews, where an inmate is released from prison early subject to strict conditions.
GPS tracking would allow more to be released because officials would be able to check up on them around the clock.
However, a plan to introduce the technology was shelved in the summer because of mounting costs and technological glitches.
Whitehall sources said it was unlikely GPS tags would be ready for at least two years.
Other measures being studied by Mr Gove include reducing the prison population by sending foreign criminals home before they have completed their sentences.
The Ministry of Justice said: ‘Protecting the public is our first responsibility and we won’t compromise on that for any reason.’ Legal highs’ are being frozen into ice blocks and thrown over prison walls, it was reported yesterday. The cubes land on netting designed to catch unwanted missiles and, when they melt, the drugs fall through into the prison yard, where they are retrieved by inmate.