First tag man arrested again

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Crime Correspondent

Home Office trials of electronic tagging took another knock yesterday when it emerged that the first offender to be fitted with the detection device has been rearrested for a second time, and is expected to be sent to jail.

Clive Barratt, 29, a convicted shoplifter, was given the tagging order at the end of July, and was supposed to remain in his home in King's Lynn, Norfolk, from 8am to 8pm for three months. However, the company which electronically monitors him via a wrist tag has recorded at least three breaches of the order. It is believed that he was arrested on Wednesday following allegations of theft from a furniture store on Monday. He had already been rearrested earlier this month, again for alleged shoplifting.

On Wednesday, the monitoring company, Geografix, made an application for breach of proceedings which will result in Barratt being resentenced for his original offences of shoplifting and being in possession of cannabis. The proceedings are expected to take from three to eight weeks, during which time Barratt is supposed to remain tagged under "house arrest".

Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, is said to be furious about the latest breach, which follows a series of blunders involving the three nine- month trials taking place in Reading, Manchester and Norfolk.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, criticised supervision of the system. "The electronic tag is the first private sentence of the court and it is a private company which pursues prosecutions for breach. The lines of accountability do appear blurred and the breach procedures seem to differ in each area," he said.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The fact the breaches are being picked up proves that the monitoring system is working."