People convicted of murder and other serious offences could be given prison sentences of hundreds of years to avoid a European human rights ban on life sentences, according to a report.
The Daily Telegraph said ministers were considering the introduction of US-style sentences after the European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that “whole-life” tariffs were a violation of human rights law because there was no “right to review”.
The paper said at least one multiple murderer had not received a whole-life sentence because of the ruling.
There are currently 49 people serving whole-life terms in England and Wales, including Mark Bridger, 47, who murdered Welsh schoolgirl April Jones in May last year. He has appealed against his whole-life sentence.
A Government source said: “The European Court of Human Rights seems to be making decisions a million miles away from what the vast majority of the public think.
“They don’t want any possibility of the most horrible of criminals walking the streets again, and this plan could be a way to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Long sentences could still be reviewed and would therefore appear to comply with the convention, even if the prisoner would die long before his release date.