Paedophiles could be offered chemical castrations to prevent them re-offending.

Ministry of Justice (MoJ) chiefs have been shown research on rolling the libido-suppressing treatments out to more abusers on a voluntary basis in an effort to cut re-offending.

At present, sex offenders are more likely to be offered psychiatric help in an effort to control their urges and reduce the risk of them carrying out further crimes.

The fact-finding exercise emerged following an outcry over plans to release black cab rapist John Worboys from prison.

The case focused attention on the handling of sex offenders by the prisons and parole system and culminated in Worboys's release being shelved.

Ministers have not made any decisions on extending the use of libido-suppressing drugs, which have to be taken continuously to be effective.

The MoJ's research was first reported by the Daily Express.

An offender's efforts to engage with therapy while in jail are often considered by officials when deciding if a prisoner is eligible for release.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell told the newspaper that he supported increasing the use of the drugs in favour of psychological therapy.

"Policy needs to be less about the human rights of prisoners and more about public safety," he said.

"While something like this would be voluntary, it should be prioritised over other methods as it is far more effective."

However Marilyn Hawes, chief executive of charity Enough Abuse UK, warned that extending the use of the drugs was "a knee-jerk reaction" and "putting a plaster on the real problem".

"When people who don't know what drives paedophiles hear the idea they can take a drug and children will be safe from them, it sounds wonderful," she told the paper.

"The reality is you don't need a sexual part to hurt children. The fantasy starts in the brain and you can't switch that off with chemical castration."

A MoJ spokesperson said: "Medical treatment to manage sexual arousal is already available to some sex offenders on a voluntary basis.

"Prisoners are prescribed medication to manage sexual arousal by a doctor, which must continue to be taken to remain effective."