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Electronic tags fail to deter criminals from breaking curfews, figures show

Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures have revealed that the majority of offenders who were put on electronic tags breached their curfews last year.

Approximately 16,000 offenders were put on an electronic tag last year which obliged them to stay at home for at least 12 hours a day. Almost 9,000 of these criminals failed to comply with their curfew or tampered with their tags.

These offenders include individuals who have been sentenced to community service, offenders who are on bail or inmates who have been released from a custodial sentence in a prison. Offences can include anything from sexual assaults, burglary or even violent crimes. Of those offenders who breached their curfews, it has been reported that one in 20 would be violent offenders.

Electronic tags are used as part of court orders for low-risk offenders to keep them on home curfews between dusk and dawn – usually 7pm – 7am. These sentences can range in length and can be used for between two weeks to six months.

The technology within the tag sends information to supervisors about whether the offender is at home or not. It can also identify if the offender has tampered with the tag or tried to remove it. If an offender breaches the curfews that have been imposed on them, they could be sent back to prison or brought before the courts.

Director of the Victims Rights’ Campaign, Harry Fletcher, commented: “This begs the question whether each and every recorded breach was fully investigated. I’m sure the victims of these offenders’ crimes will be deeply concerned at the prospect of electronic tags flagging up breaches only to be ignored.

“The private companies who run the tag schemes must be held accountable for the failure and there must be an investigation into whether the offenders should be taken back to court.”

The MoJ said the figures could include offenders who may have breached their curfew for a legitimate reason such as attending a hospital appointment.