A national register of violent offenders could be set up to keep the public safe from dangerous criminals, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said yesterday.

The database could be modelled on the existing Sex Offenders' Register and would contain the names of prisoners who had served their jail terms but were still considered a threat.

The plans were revealed by Mr Clarke as he formally unveiled new "violent offender orders" (VOOs) in response to a series of high-profile failures by t he Probation Service, including the murder of City financier John Monckton.

The orders could ban high-risk offenders from certain locations and impose a range of other conditions.

Breaking the orders could lead to up to five years in jail.

Details have yet to be finalised and Mr Clarke accepted the orders could be subject to legal challenges when they are brought in.

It would be the first time probation conditions have been imposed on offenders who have served their full sentences and are technically free men.

"At the moment there is no power of the court, Probation Service or anyone else to supervise and control these people who are dangerous or thought to be, until they commit another crime," said Mr Clarke. "That is a serious weakness in the system."

Asked if the new proposals would include a register of violent offenders, the Home Secretary said: "A register could be part of that.

"My informal view is that it's likely that it would be sensible to have a register in the same way we have a Sex Offenders' Register."

Mr Clarke stressed that it was impossible to completely eliminate the risks posed by violent criminals, joking that he had asked Prime Minister Tony Blair to take up the matter with God.

"Can I stop murders happening? Well, actually I can't," he said. "I've asked Tony if he can handle it with his links to a higher power and he can't either."

Mr Clarke said good behaviour in prison would no longer be such an important factor in determining release dates.

He told MPs: "I am issuing guidance to both prisons and probation staff to highlight the need to avoid over-emphasis on good behaviour in prison and the progress in addressing what are called dynamic risk factors when assessing risk prior to release."

He stressed that the resources available to probation staff were not the most important factor in protecting the public from dangerous criminals, and emphasised the need for reforms.

He appeared to indicate more cash will be allocated to the Parole Board to reintroduce face-to-face interviews with prisoners before release.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said failure of Government policy had been a contributing factor in several recent deaths.

"A criminal who is willing to murder, who is willing to commit armed robbery, who is willing to commit burglary is not going to be put off by some sort of super-Asbo."