LETTER:Tagged with success

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The Independent Online
From Mr Tom Stacey

Sir: Contrary to the assertion ("Tagging delay as US equipment fails", 1 June) of the Association of Chief Officers of Probation, the use of the electronic tag in penology in the US is steeply on the increase. It is also on the increase worldwide, with its recent introduction into Sweden, its extensive and established use in Singapore for the rehabilitation and early release of drug offenders, and in British Columbia (where 14 per cent of custodiable offenders are now kept out of prison on the tag) and elsewhere in Canada. At any time, some 50,000 offenders worldwide are kept out of prison through the use of the home curfew tag. The head of the Corrections Service in the State of Michigan has reckoned that the tag has saved the state building three new prisons.

This picture goes with a success rate - in terms of the absence of violation by the offender of the tag regime - of over 90 per cent in the many projects where monitoring by the tag is used.

This association was launched publicly in 1982, with its first national press conference in early 1983 - all before anything started in the United States in the field of tagging. With the exception of the misconceived 1989 pilot projects here in Britain, far from being "inglorious", the history of tagging has been one of increasingly convincing achievement in the handling of offenders, the changing of behavioural patterns, and the consequent reduction of recidivism.

If pre-pilot scheme trials technical faults have been found in the adaptation of US equipment to British telecommunications technology, delaying the Manchester start by a few weeks, it seems to us that this is precisely what such trials are intended to solve. Equipment failure in the innumerable established projects worldwide is negligible.

Yours faithfully



The Offender's Tag Association

London, W8

4 June