Labour is considering a plan for prisoners to be released having served less than half their sentence as a way to tackle overcrowding in England and Wales.

The new proposal would release prisoners on “determinate” sentences between 40% and 43% of the way through their sentence.

Offenders jailed for sex crimes, violence or terrorism would be excluded from the scheme, as would any offender subject to Parole Board decisions upon their release.

The proposed plan, first reported by the Daily Telegraph, is just one of several options the Ministry of Justice is considering.

Prison overcrowding is a key issue, due to the current prison population being almost at capacity,

As of May, the prison population was at 87,505, with an official usable capacity at 88,895, The Guardian reports.

One government source told the Guardian: “No one wants to do it, but their hands have been forced by the inaction of the last lot. It’s very much an option though and not a done deal yet.”

Another government insider added: “We haven’t made any decisions yet, we’re just kicking the tyres on all the options. But the crisis is acute and there are no easy decisions ahead of us.”

Keir Starmer keen to tackle prison overcrowding

In his first press conference as Prime Minister on Saturday (July 6), Keir Starmer highlighted prisons as one of the biggest issues facing his government.

He said it would be impossible to stop the current policy of releasing prisoners early because of the lack of capacity in jails.

Discussing the issue on Good Morning Britain, associate editor of the Daily Mirror Kevin Maguire said it would be a hard decision to make.

He explained: "You inherit a situation you have no control over. Keir Starmer has said they have no magic wand, you would have to be a magician to produce new prisons overnight.

Recommended reading:

"You can see the figures and see the projections. If you're going to make pretty tough and potentially unpopular decisions, make them early because you can blame your predecessors.

"Because in this case they've inherited a problem of too many prisoners [and] not enough prison places.

"It's not a satisfactory result, people will think 'Hang on, this seems really unfair' but if you're gonna do it, do it now."