Leading article: An unusually sensible policy

Share

The problem with crime statistics is that they can often be used to justify very different agendas. The figures thrown up by the Public Accounts Committee's latest report on Home Detention Curfew for convicted criminals (commonly known as "tagging") are a good case in point.

Some claim the figures discredit the Government's policy of releasing low-risk prisoners nearing the end of their sentence into the community under electronic surveillance. They point to the fact that more than 1,000 crimes, including five killings, have been committed by tagged prisoners since 1999. According to the shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, this amounts to a "shocking disregard for public safety" on the grounds that these crimes would never have happened if the prisoners had not been released early.

Meanwhile, the Government says the figures support the policy of tagging, pointing to the statistic that less than 4 per cent of the 130,000 prisoners released reoffended while wearing tags. Home Office ministers argue that this actually compares very well with the 67 per cent reoffending rate for all prisoners released within two years.

It does seem, as the report concludes, that not enough information has been reaching prison governors, the people who make the decision to release prisoners with a tag, about the results of their past decisions. And there must, obviously, be a thorough consideration of public safety and a rigorous discussion of whether a particular prisoner's rehabilitation will be aided. But the principle of extending community rehabilitation, under supervision, for prisoners nearing the end of their sentences is entirely justified.

Of course it is true, as the Conservatives point out, that these 1,000 crimes would not have occurred had the prisoners remained behind bars. But this is a blinkered view. It is just as true to argue that many crimes committed by prisoners released through the normal channels would not have happened if greater efforts had been made to rehabilitate them. And the evidence strongly suggests that tagging is an effective method of rehabilitation.

Indeed tagging is one of the few sensible policies this Government has introduced in the sphere of criminal justice. At the weekend, the prison population reached a record 79,843 - a hair's breadth away from full capacity. This has prompted emergency measures from the Home Secretary, John Reid. On Monday it was announced that police cells will be cleared and foreign prisoners bribed to leave the country. Without tagging the situation would be even more desperate. The Government should tighten up the safeguards - but also expand the scheme.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women-only train carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style