David Cameron will call for a new "tough but intelligent" approach to law and order tomorrow in a major speech to get him back on the front foot after a string of controversies.
In an attempt to change the terms of debate about the punishment of offenders, the Prime Minister will say that a combination of both tough prison sentences and lighter rehabilitation methods is necessary.
Aides insisted he was not seeking to take a harder line on law and order issues to appease critics from the Tory right of his "hug a hoodie" philosophy.
Instead he will try to find a middle ground between those who call for tougher sentencing and others who want to see more rehabilitation of offenders. He will say that the common sense approach is to do both.
The speech comes after he used last month's reshuffle to replace Ken Clarke, who attracted accusations of being soft on sentencing, with the more hardline Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary.
Mr Grayling is expected to increase the use of payment-by-results for private companies who help rehabilitate offenders, but he also wants to make community sentences tougher, with a "punitive element" to every order.
Another initiative is a "two strikes and you're out" policy for serious violent and sexual offenders - after the second there will be an automatic life sentence.
The Mail on Sunday reported that Home Secretary Theresa May is also set to unveil moves to tackle gun-runners who bring firearms into the UK for criminal gangs. There will be a new offence of possession of an illegal firearm with intent to supply, carrying a maximum life sentence - up from 10 years for blackmarket smugglers at present.
Mr Cameron's speech follows a difficult period for the coalition Government, which has been largely engulfed in recent weeks by the row over Andrew Mitchell's foul-mouthed confrontation with Downing Street police officers.
He finally quit on Friday night, which was damaging for the Prime Minister after weeks of trying to shore up his chief whip. But Mr Cameron will hope that his departure will allow the Government to at last move on from the episode.
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