Boris Johnson has suggested that violent or sexual offenders could remain behind bars for longer, should he win the race to be prime minister.

Mr Johnson said it is was wrong that prisoners were being routinely released after serving just half of their sentence.

He added that Theresa May was wrong to introduce curbs on the police’s stop and search powers, and indicated he wanted to “change that balance back”.

Talking about his views on the justice system, Mr Johnson told the Daily Mail: “I’m afraid there are too many people, because of the way the sentencing law works, who have committed serious violence or sexual offences who are being let out, as the law prescribes, after they’ve served only half the sentence that is pronounced in open court.

Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson speaks during a party leadership hustings in Belfast, Northern Ireland Tuesday July 2, 2019. The two contenders, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson face election by party member of Britain's Conservative Party with the winner replacing Prime Minister Theresa May as party leader and UK prime minister. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)..
Image: Mr Johnson also wants to give subsidies to Scottish farmers

“This is happening. And I’m talking about serious sexual or violent offenders.

“And I think the public is noticing this, quite properly. They don’t think it’s right, and I don’t think it’s right.”

The former mayor of London has also promised an extra £25m a year in subsidies to Scottish farmers, as part of his leadership campaign, saying he wanted to address the way that they had been “poorly treated”.

Under Mr Johnson’s plans, he said that Scottish farmers would get the same per-hectare farming payment as the UK average post-Brexit.

Meanwhile, his rival Jeremy Hunt has called on the party’s membership to choose what he calls “serious leadership”.

Mr Hunt says he wants to win over the public through “competence, delivery and serious leadership” rather than “populism”, in an effort to win over younger voters.

Jeremy Hunt
Image: Jeremy Hunt is trying to appeal to young conservatives

At another event today, Mr Hunt is expected to say: “The country always calls on Conservatives when we face difficult challenges.

“But lasting popularity for our party doesn’t come from populism but from respect. Respect earned through competence, delivery and serious leadership.

“Without that respect we will put our country in the hands of a hard-left populist who has opposed British values his entire life.

FILE PHOTO (EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF IMAGES - Image numbers 1044488356,612439836- GRADIENT ADDED) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Tory Leadership nominees Boris Johnson (L)and Jeremy Hunt. The Conservative party will vote on who will be their next leader with the result announced late July. ***LEFT IMAGE*** BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Boris Johnson speaks at a Conservative home fringe meeting on day three of the Conservative Party Conference on October 2, 2018
Image: The leadership rivals will appear in Nottingham on Saturday

“We are in a time of real and present danger to our country.”

Both candidates will attend the Young Conservatives conference later on Saturday in Nottingham, as well as appearing at two more hustings in front of the party membership.

On Friday evening the pair were in Perth in Scotland where they talked about ruling out a second Scottish independence referendum.