Murderers and others convicted of the most serious offences could be given sentences lasting hundreds of years to get round the European Court of Human Rights ruling on whole-life terms, the government has indicated.  

In Vintner and Others v the United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg ruled last year that whole-life sentences were a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights because they allow no possibility for a ‘right of review’.

According to press reports today, a proposal to allow judges to sentence offenders for hundreds of years is one of the options being considered by ministers in response to the Strasbourg ruling.

The change would not have much of an impact on the sentence served, but would allow for the potential of a review of the sentence.

There are currently 49 offenders serving whole-life terms in jails in England and Wales.

The move is part of the government’s drive to limit the impact of European human rights law on domestic policy.

Today's Telegraph reports a government spokesman as saying: ‘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.’