Ministers secure breakthrough in bid to end prisoner voting deadlock with Europe

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Ministers have secured a key breakthrough as they seek to end a long-running legal deadlock with Europe over prisoner voting.

Earlier this year, the Government unveiled proposals to ease a blanket ban which was repeatedly found to breach inmates' human rights.

The measures seek to address an anomaly which means offenders released into the community using an electronic tag under the home detention curfew can vote, but those who are out on temporary licence cannot.

The Government estimates that the change will affect up to 100 individuals at any one time.

On Thursday, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), endorsed the plans.

A decision adopted by the committee "noted with satisfaction" the package of administrative measures proposed and "strongly encouraged" authorities to implement them as soon as possible.

Under UK law prisoners serving a custodial sentence do not have the right to vote in any elections.

In 2005, the Strasbourg-based ECtHR found that the approach was in violation of a clause in the European Convention on Human Rights.

A string of similar judgments followed, sparking huge controversy.

David Cameron said he did not want to give prisoners the vote (Hannah McKay/PA
David Cameron said he did not want to give prisoners the vote (Hannah McKay/PA

Former prime minister David Cameron once said he felt "physically ill" at the thought of giving prisoners the vote.

Announcing the Government's plans in November, Justice Secretary David Lidington said no offenders will be granted release in order to vote.

He added: "Our estimate is that these changes to temporary licence will affect up to 100 offenders at any one time and none of them will be able to vote from prison."