Blunkett plans test of electronic tags for youthful offenders

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The Government plans to test electronic tags to keep track of teenagers awaiting trial for serious crimes, Home Secretary David Blunkett said today.

"If we're going to have the safer streets campaign, as we are in London and similar projects, to combat robbery and violence and thuggery across the country, then you have to put the 12 to 16­year­olds somewhere," Blunkett said in a BBC radio interview.

"We're talking about thugs, who are actually creating havoc in their local community ... and people saying 'What is the point in picking them up, the Crown Prosecution Service going to trial, if they end up simply doing it the weekend after?"' Blunkett said.

About 1,800 tags will be used in the trial in six areas, the BBC reported. The tests will involve suspected offenders aged 12 to 16 who have been released on bail while awaiting trial for offenses including criminal damage, theft, sexual assault and robbery, the report said.

Blunkett was expected to announce details of the plan later Tuesday.

Electronic tags were tested on juveniles in 1989, but 34 of the 50 test subjects either reoffended or absconded, including one who was accused of murder while wearing a tag, and the policy was not pursued.

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