A UKIP MEP wants to CHARGE prisoners £40,000 a year under a controversial 'law and order' jail manifesto.

Bill Etheridge also wants "all luxuries" to be removed from jails like electronic devices, and keep prisoners locked up unable to leave their cells during their first six months behind bars.

The Worcestershire MEP, who is trying to replace Nigel Farage as next UKIP leader, says the radical policies will put criminals off reoffending and help pay towards the costs for dealing with Britain's burgeoning 85,000-strong prison population.

Under his flagship idea, each prisoner would be charged a £40,000 'annual levy' until all their assets, such as property, are depleted.

But it has already been criticised by West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, who told the Worcester News the focus needs to be on rehab.

Mr Etheridge, who represents the West Midlands region in Brussels said: "We must drive down the cost of prisons and ensure they are places that no-one would wish to return to.

"People can be rehabilitated without significant financial resources.

"There should be no requirement to provide miscreants with the sort of electronic gadgetry the poorest in our society struggle to acquire.

"Prisons should be there to provide shelter, toilet provision, food and access to reading materials for self-advancement.

"Anything more than these basic essentials is an unnecessary waste of taxpayers' money."

But Mr Campion said: "For me, our courts are responsible for issuing punishments appropriate for the crime.

"For someone going to jail, losing their liberty is their punishment - and if you want to levy a fine the laws are there to do that in sentencing.

"I'm more interested in making sure we get justice for victims and 'break the cycle' in rehabilitating offenders so they don't commit more crimes."

Britain's prison population has surged 53 per cent since 1993 and now costs taxpayers around £2.9 billion a year.

Nearly half of those released go on to reoffend within a year of release, with the cost of imprisoning someone estimated to be around £40,000.

In recent years the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has focused relentlessly on rehab for jailbirds including offering them IT classes, skills workshops, and more paid work behind bars to help them find employment once they are freed.

But the MoJ has been criticised for its spending in the past including £8.4 million on TVs, £1.5 million on sports equipment and £460,000 on gardening kits, according to its accounts last year.

The Government says the costs of television sets are funded by taking £1 each week from prisoners' wages.