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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 09:00 GMT
Should non-violent offenders be tagged?

Electronic monitoring has been introduced in some areas of the UK as a way of coping with rising prison populations. From 1 February it will also be available as an option for juvenile offenders aged 10-15.

Tagged offenders are subject to curfew orders - if they are away from home past their curfew time their tag sends a signal to a monitoring office.

But some critics say it is overly intrusive and an abuse of an individual's human rights. Others point out that on its own it cannot prevent offenders from committing further offences - and needs to be combined with effective supervision.

Do you think non-violent offenders should be tagged as an alternative to a prison sentence? Do you think tagging should be used to keep track of offenders - such as paedophiles - who are not presently charged with an offence?

This Talking Point is part of a week of crime specials. Click here to read your comments on Yob Culture.

This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.

I think the tags will become a cool fashion accessory which proves how hard the offender is

Jen, UK
I think the tags will become a cool fashion accessory which proves how "hard" the offender is. We need to hit people in the wallet for them to make a change ,so dock their parent's wages or benefit, then they might take on board some parental responsibility
Jen, UK

Surely this can only encourage petty crime. If a person knows they will not be imprisoned then there will be no deterrent.
M Delaney, UK

Putting non-violent 10 to 15 year olds in prison is the best way to ensure they complete their criminal apprenticeship. Tagging, despite the bleeding hearts, is a more humane way of dealing with children.
Gerry, Scotland

I am concerned about a couple of comments here from people who think non-payment of debt is somehow not a crime. If you've ever had a debt that hasn't been paid you'd realise it's theft, and tagging will make no difference to this type of thief because fraud is usually done during the day. But for people who consistently cause trouble on the streets at night it's an excellent idea.
Graham, UK/Brazil

It doesn't stop them from being anymore of threat than they are now

David Kelk, Wales
Tagging can certainly help us keep a watch full eye on sex offenders who have a greater tendency to re-offend. However simply sticking a tag on some can tell us when they are putting innocent people in danger,it doesn't stop them from being anymore of threat than they are now.
David Kelk, Wales

Tagging will only work if the offenders home life is not the reason they offended.
Caron, England

Tag paedophiles and activate an alarm when they're in the vicinity of a school or similar place where young children congregate.If you make prisons less like youth clubs then maybe the threat of a prison sentence would help in the reduction of crime.
James, England

It represents a further concession to criminals and a kick in the teeth for the victims of crime

Anna M, UK
Electronic Tagging may be a useful monitoring tool for following those on probation but as an alternative to prison it represents a further concession to criminals and a kick in the teeth for the victims of crime. Why should law-abiding people, who are trapped in the prisons of their day to day jobs and losing a sizeable chunk of what they earn to tax, made to read about thieves and fraudsters being allowed to continue their day to day lives.
Anna M, UK

Rather than just tagging offenders, issue more community service orders and use prison work gangs in the community. They can clean graffiti, keep the streets clean, maintain grass verges and generally do a better job at tidying up the UK than our lazy local councils.
Dr Duncan Campbell, UK

The critics always harp on about the human rights of the criminals. What about their victim's human rights? If a criminal has no problem violating someone else's right to live without being burgled/assaulted etc, why should we then consider the criminals human rights? Tag them, at least then we can keep track of them. Might not stop the offending though.
Andrew, UK

If over crowding is the issue build more prisons

Richard Brown, UK
I do not believe tagging to be the answer. If over crowding is the issue build more prisons. Punish offenders with longer sentences to deter people from crime.
Richard Brown, UK

Prison is expensive and overcrowded. This is an excellent idea for an alternative to Prison. The offender could also be given community service and wear a jumper saying I am a thief or likewise, unless the offence is not payment of debt or anything about personal finance.
Andrew, England

Give them a free mobile phone. It will do the tracking part of an electronic tag's job just as well. The State already has power to listen into their (and everyone else's) calls and overhear any misdeeds they may be planning. Voila! And there's no need for new legislation.
Mark, UK

I don't see why not, particularly for people who are on remand and those who've been convicted for non-violent crimes like non-payment of debt, minor fraud and so on. I'd be a bit more nervous of violent criminals being tagged in this way, though.
Julian, Wiltshire

If it is an effective means of achieving retribution, punishment and rehabilitation at lower cost, I say why not employ tagging?
Chris Klein, UK

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