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

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Project Coordinator - Cisco Partner - £110 p/d

£110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator (SC Cleared), Cisco Go...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The No campaign has a classic advertising problem: they need to turn a negative into a positive

John Hegarty
 

August catch-up: genius of Apple, fools and commercial enterprises, and the Queen

John Rentoul
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone