Two recent reports have highlighted a number of concerns about electronically monitored curfews imposed by the courts.
Over the past six years the use of curfews has more than doubled. There are now proposals to extend the use of tags even further. These include the possibility of curfews being a part of all community orders. Additionally there are plans to extend the maximum number of hours that a person can be subjected to such an order beyond the current limit of 12 hours in any 24 hour period. The increased use of these orders has ensured that the monitoring of offenders is now a vast business. The private companies who run the system are paid over £100 million a year of public money.
A study by Napo makes it clear that there are significant problems administering the system. Difficulties have been identified relating to faulty equipment, inadequate monitoring and occasions when the tagging equipment had not even been installed.
The Probation Service Inspectorate has also published a detailed report identifying concerns. The report raises issues in respect of the circumstances in which these orders are made. Liz Calderbank , the Chief Inspector of Probation, has said:
“Electronically monitored curfews are now being used as an additional punishment for people convicted of minor offences that would not normally attract a prison sentence. Even at this level, however, punishment comes at a price. If the cost of electronically monitored curfews is to be fully justified, they need to be used more creatively and effectively. This means providing targeted control and restriction and helping individuals to change their offending behaviour.”
It is hoped that before any extension to the use of curfews becomes widespread, full regard will be taken regarding these areas of difficulty. If you require advice about a curfew or any other community sentence including breach proceedings, please do not hesitate to contact Olliers.