Tagging of offenders poised to return: Despite earlier failures, a Bill before Parliament allows use of electronic monitoring

Electronic tagging for offenders is to be reintroduced by the Government, despite being abandoned more than three years ago after disastrous pilot schemes.

New powers, included in the Criminal Justice Bill currently before Parliament, will enable courts to sentence criminals to curfew orders, which will be electronically monitored. Offenders convicted of crimes such as theft, minor assaults, stealing cars and burglary, are expected to be given the new punishments and fitted with tags, probably around their ankles. The tags produce signals which alert a supervisor, usually a private security guard, if the offender leaves home.

Electronic monitoring - inspired by an American comic character King Pin, who used electronic surveillance to track his arch enemy Spiderman - will be introduced for nine months in Manchester, Reading and Norfolk next January. The Home Office has more than pounds 1.3m to spend on the project and, if successful, hopes to set up a national scheme.

Tagging was first used in Nottingham, Newcastle and London in 1989. In that experiment, people were tagged instead of being locked up awaiting a court appearance. Probation officers claimed it degenerated into an expensive fiasco.

Of the 49 subjects, 29 either breached their conditions or committed another offence. In all there were 217 violations. In one case a man absconded for several weeks and when he was found he was charged with murder, for which he later received a life sentence. Another man in Tyneside jumped out of the dock and escaped before the tag could be fitted. There were also dozens of equipment failures.

In 1992, the Home Office said the scheme was being dropped because of expense - it was estimated that it would have cost up to pounds 60m to introduce it country-wide.

The Home Office is confident that developments in technology will produce better results than in 1989 when the tags had to be plugged into a telephone connected to the local police station, or security guard, to show wearers were observing their curfew.

Private security officers employed by the electronics company which provides the equipment and, in some cases, probation officers or local authority staff, are expected to monitor the tagged offenders. Courts will be able to combine community service orders with the new electronic curfew sentences.

The Home Office also wants to establish the cost and effectiveness of the new orders.

The government plans are contained in a letter from Hugh Marriage, the deputy head of the Probation Service division at the Home Office, which contains details about the electronic monitoring and the curfew order in advance of the Criminal Justice Bill being given parliamentary assent. The House of Lords is expected to debate it in committee on 16 May.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said: 'Ministers have failed to realise that a punishment that might act as a deterrent for them does not act as a deterrent for many offenders who, by and large, lead chaotic lives, may have mental health, drink and drug problems, are disorganised, unemployed and tend to have unsettled home lives.'

Rosemary Thomson, chairwoman of the Magistrates' Association, said that they were 'sceptical' given their experience of the earlier trials.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable