The government is planning to extend a scheme which allows some prisoners to be freed early to ease pressures in jails across England and Wales.

Under the programme, certain inmates jailed for less than four years can be let out before the halfway point of their sentence.

They are made to wear an electronic tag and abide by a curfew.

Ministers want to increase the maximum period for which they can be released from four-and-a-half to six months.

An official estimate, carried out last year, said it would lead to a “spike” of about 600 in the number of prisoners who are freed early.

Last Friday, 2,718 prisoners were on the scheme, which is known as home detention curfew (HDC).

The timing of the announcement is likely to

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