Revamp of community sentencing will see tagging extended to ease pressure on UK's prison system
More than 100,000 offenders a year will be made to wear electronic tags under government plans to toughen community sentences that critics will see as an attempt to alleviate pressure on the prison system.
The Ministry of Justice is struggling to accommodate offenders. Ministers hope a widespread increase in tagging will see many diverted from jail to community sentences. A consultation paper to be launched on Monday, making the case for overhauling community sentences, will be presented as a way of restoring confidence in the sentences, widely seen as a soft option.
The new sentences, which will involve more intense supervision and unpaid work, will involve round-the-clock surveillance by GPS systems. Courts will be able to sentence individuals to wear electronic tags for up to 16 hours a day, up to 12 months a year.
Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation service union Napo, said the tougher the supervision, the more likely it was to fail. The new measures, contained in the legal aid and sentencing bill, are likely to be a bonanza for private companies awarded tagging contracts.
Napo estimates that, under the plans, as many as 120,000 people will be on an electronic tag at any one time.