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Sunday, 17 March, 2002, 01:31 GMT
Tagged prisoners 'commit 1,400 crimes'
Electronic tag
Home detention curfew has been hailed a "success"
The Home Office has defended its electronic tagging scheme after a newspaper reported 1,400 crimes had been committed by prisoners released early.

Unpublished figures showed four rapes, 38 serious woundings and 82 serious assaults had been committed by tagged offenders in the first three years of the scheme, the Sunday Telegraph said..

But the Home Office said the most recent official statistics recorded fewer than 900 offences in the first 35 months - a 2% reoffending rate - and said the "home detention curfew" had been a great success.

This system is crazy, we are letting convicted criminals out to cause mayhem

Victims of Crime Trust
The offending rates for those released from prison without tags were 50%, the Home Office added.

"Over 90% of people released on home detention curfew complete it successfully without reoffending or breaching their curfew conditions," said a spokeswoman.

"From our point of view, it is a huge success."

The paper's figures suggest prisoners released with tags committed 1,456 crimes between the scheme's introduction in January 1999 to December 2001.

Risk assessment

The offences include three kidnappings, seven threats to kill, 19 muggings, 53 burglaries, 123 drugs offences and 223 thefts, the paper said.

Two had been found with guns and 14 with knives, it added.

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, told paper: "The victims of these rapes and other crimes should take legal action against the government.

"They would not have been attacked if the men had been in prison.

Prison interior
There is a 50% reoffending rate for those released without tags
"This system is crazy, we are letting convicted criminals out to cause mayhem."

The Home Office spokeswoman said that by November 30, 2001, only 893 of the 42,853 prisoners released under the scheme had been convicted or cautioned or were awaiting prosecution in relation to offences committed while subject to home detention curfew.

She said only convicts with no history of sexual or violent crime were eligible for the scheme, and every case was subject to a risk assessment.

See also:

26 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Teenagers on bail to be tagged
07 Jan 00 | e-cyclopedia
Electronic tagging: A virtual prison?
23 Aug 01 | UK
Youth justice: How it works
20 Feb 02 | Scotland
Helping hand for young offenders
25 Feb 02 | Education
Special orders curbing pupils
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