Offenders face much tougher curfew rules

 

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The Independent Online

Criminals serving community sentences will be forced to spend up to 16 hours a day in their homes, under new probation rules unveiled by the Government today.

The changes will mean that judges will be able to order criminals to stay at home during all parts of the day apart from when they are at work or training. The proposal is part of Government plans to make community punishments tougher.

Under the initiative, outlined by the Prisons and Probation Minister Crispin Blunt, such curfews could last for up to a year. At present the longest time for which a curfew can be imposed is six months. Courts will also be able to vary the hours from day to day, allowing more flexibility when managing offenders.

Mr Blunt said it would have the effect of keeping offenders off the streets for longer and reduce criminality. "These tougher curfew conditions will stop offenders socialising in the evenings, and keep them away from situations that could land them in trouble again," he said. "This is part of our proposals to reform the criminal justice system and will help to keep communities safe while important work is done with offenders to turn them away from a life of crime."

About 24,000 people are electronically tagged at any one time, the Ministry of Justice said. If an offender breaches the curfew, he or she can be sent back to court for punishment.

Other measures included in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill are a review of Imprisonment for Public Protection sentences, with a view to replacing them with a tougher determinate sentence regime.

A new offence of aggravated knife possession will carry a mandatory jail sentence of at least six months.