In the Media

Prisoners released early on tags commit more offences

PUBLISHED July 13, 2012

Official figures show that one in three re-offenders on the Home Detention Scheme committed low-level crimes including motoring offences, a quarter committed theft and about one in five was either caught with drugs or involved in violence.

Four out of 10 who were forced to stay indoors overnight and wear an electronic tag had 15 or more previous offences to their name, the Ministry of Justice data show.

The figures have emerged after inspectors found that more than half of those on tags were allowed to breach the terms of their curfews without being punished further.

Ministers have also admitted that they have no idea how many criminals tamper with their tags or go missing, despite paying two private companies £100million to run the scheme.

It comes ahead of a planned expansion of the system that will see up to 180,000 people being monitored 24 hours a day by GPS satellite systems.

A new MoJ study on re-offending looked at the number of prisoners released to spend the final months of their sentences in the community under the Home Detention Curfew scheme. Anyone serving less than four years behind bars can be freed up to 135 days early, but must wear an ankle bracelet that sounds an alarm if they do not remain indoors for 12 hours every night.

In 2009-10, 413 criminals re-offended while still under curfew and wearing an electronic tag - 3.6 per cent of the 11,532 on the scheme.

They committed 668 offences between them, an average of 1.62 each.

Of these, 32.5 per cent were summary offences including motoring law breaches, while 27.2 per cent related to theft and handling stolen goods while 15 per cent were drug crimes and a further 6.3 per cent violent offences.

In total 39.7 per cent of those on Home Detention Curfew orders had 15 of more prior convictions to their name while only 6.8 per cent had no previous.

However the proportion of those re-offending while on the curfew scheme has fallen from 4.6 per cent in 2008-09 and 6 per cent in 2003-04.

The MoJ re-offending report also disclosed that dangerous criminals committed more than 200 serious offences in a year despite supposedly being under the supervision of the authorities.

In total offenders being monitored by probation and police were convicted of 206 serious further offences in 2010-11.

These included 44 murders, 15 manslaughters, 78 rapes and 56 other serious sexual or violent assaults.

However this was a fall of the figure of 266 recorded the previous year.