One hundred babies spent time living in prison last year, statistics show.

The figures have prompted David Cameron to demand a review of how to deal with new mothers in custody.

The Prime Minister, who will give a speech on prisons policy on Monday, confirmed the Government is looking at alternatives to jail.

He said: “It is absolutely terrible to think that some babies are spending the earliest months – even years – of their lives behind bars.

“Prison staff do their best to make these environments pleasant.

“Some units even have special sensory rooms, so that babies can see colours, sights and sound – even nature – that they wouldn’t ever otherwise see inside the grey walls of a jail.

“There are actually women in these prisons who were born in the same prison 20 years earlier, and then have ended up there later as criminals themselves.

“Think of the damage done to the life chances of these children.”

Pregnant women who give birth while serving a prison sentence are usually transferred to a jail’s mother and baby unit for an initial period.

These units have to be able to accommodate babies up until the age of 18 months.

Mr Cameron said: “It’s time to think seriously about whether this is the right approach.

“We’ve got to break this cycle.

“So I want us to find alternative ways of dealing with women prisoners with babies, including tagging, problem-solving courts and alternative resettlement units.”

The Prime Minister also confirmed a pilot scheme to track offenders by satellite will launch this year.

It could change how prisoners are released on licence or the way community sentences are enforced.

The technology will be introduced nationwide by 2020.