Leading article: Time to tighten up on tagging

 

Share
Related Topics

Hard cases, they say, make bad laws. But they may make for improved enforcement. The sentencing yesterday of an electronically tagged 15-year-old charged with stabbing a man to death may be an extreme example: the youth had breached the terms of his tagging order several times in the previous month. But this is far from an isolated incident.

The number of curfews imposed by courts, and monitored by electronic tags, has more than doubled over the past six years. Some 10 per cent of the total probation budget is now involved with tagging. Yet research by the Inspector of Probation finds that 57 per cent of tagged criminals violate the terms of their curfews. And more than half of the incidents involve serious violations. Neither is the situation new: a previous report in 2008 highlighted very similar problems.

Many breaches occur because of delays in enforcing the tagging orders: the Probation Inspector uncovered confusion between the Probation Service and the private companies to which tagging has been outsourced. But there are problems, too, with the poor quality of the information received from the court by tag-fitters. What is most striking is that all those involved are anxious to shift responsibility elsewhere. Rather than being distracted by a meaningless blame game, the Government's focus must be to develop concrete measures to tighten up the system.

The Government is keen to increase the use of tagging. Rightly so. Punishment in the community is preferable not only on cost grounds, but also because it can improve rehabilitation rates. But the system will not achieve anything if it is misapplied. As things now stand, not only are tagging curfews not being maintained, the technology is also not being applied in a targeted way. It is also too often used in inappropriate situations, such as domestic violence.

At present, the gap between the potential of tagging and the reality on the ground is inexcusably wide. Ministers may want to extend the maximum confinement at home from 12 to 16 hours per day. Before they can do so, however, public confidence in community sentences will need to be increased. That means ensuring there is a robust enforcement regime.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Iraqi soldiers trained by the US were routed by IS’s smaller force  

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

Patrick Cockburn
Christmas Day cinema-goers seem to have mistaken the complexities of the right to free speech  

There's a time to speak and a time to keep quiet

Paul Vallely
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015