POLICE should be able to tag people suspected of serious offences before they are convicted or even charged, Dorset's police and crime commissioner says.

Martyn Underhill, a former officer, was second-in-command during the investigation into the murder of Sarah Payne in 2000.

Sarah, who was just eight years old, was abducted and murdered by Roy Whiting.

Mr Underhill said: "Police should absolutely have the right to tag people.

"If you've got a high-risk offender, or someone who hasn't been charged with an offence but you think could be a high-risk offender, you should be able to tag them.

"We had to bail Whiting [before he was charged] and there was a huge concern there that he could harm a child.

"That's wrong and it shouldn't be allowed."

Whiting had abducted and sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl in March 1995. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

In 1997, Whiting was released from prison and became one of the first people in Britain to register as a sex offender.

When Sarah disappeared several miles from his flat, he was visited by police because of his previous offences.

He was later arrested and bailed.

In July 2000, Sarah's body was found and identified. Whiting was then re-arrested in the same month on suspicion of murder.

However, once again, police were unable to charge him straight away. He was not formally charged until February 2001.

Mr Underhill said: "I have always felt that police should be able to tag people in these types of circumstances.

"It would be rare - maybe only one or two people a year, for example - and the person tagged would have the right to go before a judge and challenge the tag.

"It would apply to those people who are suspected of being very high risk, the people police officers lose sleep over.

"If there's a real threat to the public, we should be able to tag these people straight away."

Mr Underhill has previously said all paedophiles should be tagged on their release from prison.

In 2016, he urged Michael Gove, who was then Lord Chancellor, to consider making the punishment mandatory for those who commit sex offences against children.

Speaking to the Daily Echo in January that year, the PCC said he was “passionate” about keeping children safe from harm.

“We have to monitor sex offenders,” he said.