Prisoners could be allowed to spend weekends in jail and live at home the rest of the time under plans for a new generation of satellite tags which will be unveiled by the British government in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday.
Satellite tagging will be rolled out for the first time across eight police forces from September, before being extended nationwide as part of the biggest shake up of the justice system since the Victorian era.
The Prime Minister hopes that the move will “revolutionise” sentencing by enabling prisoners to keep full-time jobs during the week and spend their weekends in custody. Howeverit is also likely to lead to a backlash from Conservative MPs over “soft justice”.
Whilst the pilots will initially focus on improving existing monitoring of criminals on community service, ministers ultimately want to use them to reform sentencing. They are likely to be used for criminals who are due for release oralready out on licence, including serious offenders.
The Prime Minister last hailed the plans for “reform prisons”, saying that they will stop jails being “warehouses for criminals”.
The six prisons given the new powers will include HMP Wandsworth, one of Europe’s biggest jails. The Prime Minister said: “For too long, we have left our prisons to fester. Not only does that reinforce the cycle of crime, increasing the bills of social failure that taxpayers must pick up. It writes off thousands of people.
“So today, we start the long-overdue, long-needed change that our prisons need. No longer will they be warehouses for criminals; they will now be places where lives are changed.”
The extremism bill will see bring in sweeping new laws will ban hate speakers from working with children and other vulnerable groups, in the same way that paedophiles are vetted.
However the Evangelical Alliance, which represents more than two million Christians, criticised the bill.
Simon McCrossan, the alliance’s head of public policy, said: “It’s extreme to try and tell religious groups what they can and can’t teach under the guise of fundamental British values. It’s extreme to threaten to send Ofsted inspectors into churches if they don’t teach British values.
“This Government’s trying to fight extremism with extremism and the main casualty will be our fundamental freedoms.”
Ministers will also push ahead with plans to scrap Labour’s human rights act and give British judges the final say.
A consultation is expected to recommend that Britain should remain a member of the European Convention of Human Rights in a move which will provoke a Cabinet split.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has said that Britain must leave the convention to avoid the influence of European courts while Cameron is committed to staying in.
The British government’s plan to give ex-pats the right to vote will represent the biggest expansion of the franchise since 1918.
Ex-pats are currently barred from voting in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years.