Cameron vows to retain life terms

David Cameron has promised to ensure murderers can be kept in jail for life amid suggestions that the Government could introduce 100-year-sentences.

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Ministers are considering introducing the lengthy sentences to get around a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, it has been reported

David Cameron has promised to ensure murderers can be kept in jail for life amid suggestions that the Government could introduce 100-year-sentences.

The Prime Minister's comments follow a long-running confrontation with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over whole-life terms.

Last year the court declared the tariffs in England illegal because they did not allow for a "right to review".

But ministers believe that they can sidestep the ruling by letting judges sentence for hundreds of years. Prisoners would then be able to have their sentences reviewed, and potentially reduced, in the normal way.

Mr Cameron said: "What I think is very clear, there are some people who commit such dreadful crimes that they should be sent to prison and life should mean life.

"Whatever the European court has said, we must put in place arrangements to make sure that can continue."

Tory home office minister Damian Green has been leading a committee considering how the influence of the Strasbourg court can be curtailed.

A government source told the Daily Telegraph: "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."

There are 49 prisoners serving whole-life terms in England and Wales. One killer, Ian McLoughlin, who was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years for murdering a man while on day release from another murder sentence in July, avoided a whole-life term because of the ECHR ruling, the Telegraph said.