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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
'Tag killing' widower speaks out
More than 1,000 crimes have been committed by prisoners released early with electronic tags. The widower of a jeweller killed by a teenager under supervision wants tagging abolished.

Victor Bates
Victor Bates was attacked with a crowbar during the raid

Victor Bates, whose wife Marian was shot dead by armed raiders in her Nottingham jewellers in September 2003, said it was insulting to victims that tagging was being put forward because it was cheaper than jail.

He told BBC's Five Live Breakfast: "The offence is caused by the word 'cost-effective', really," he said. "They say the system is cost- effective - to whom? Not to me and my family."

He said it was also not "cost-effective" to thousands of other people whose relatives had been hurt or killed by people "willingly let out of prison by the government".

Mistakes

The offences committed by tagged inmates include five killings and more than 700 assaults, the Home Office figures revealed.

Nineteen-year-old Peter Williams, who was given a life sentence for murdering Mrs Bates, 64, had removed his tag days before the killing.

Last year, a probation report found that a youth offending team and the tagging firm in charge of monitoring Williams had made mistakes.

He was on an intensive surveillance and supervision programme, but had repeatedly breached his curfew order, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation found.

After the report was published last September, Mr Bates said both the policy behind tagging and operational aspects of it were flawed.

"It obviously does not work and it has proved this over a period of time. It ought to be discontinued and we ought to have criminals locked up " he said. "And not let out on the streets with little or no supervision."

Even the tagging companies claim that they are not obliged to report disappearances from curfewed premises, he claimed.

Crowbar attack

Williams had attacked Mr Bates with a crowbar, while his accomplice - who has never been caught - shot Mrs Bates in the chest as she shielded her daughter.

photos of Marian Bates
Marian Bates was killed in an armed raid

Mr Bates said the government's claim that violent offenders who had committed the most serious offences would not come under tagging orders was "just untrue".

"The guy who colluded in my wife's murder was actually on the sex offenders' register as well. He just wasn't violent, he'd done all sorts of things - a career criminal," he said.

He said that Williams was in the news several months ago after threatening a fellow inmate with a blade.

"This is the sort of person we are dealing with and there's lots of them that are incarcerated around the country - let's keep them out of society," he said.

Mr Bates believes the government should create more prison places instead of releasing people early.

The low-tech tag that we use now is easily removable by the offender for a night out or whenever they like
Victor Bates

He said that prison overcrowding was "self induced" and the situation had to be dealt with.

"I can't see the secret agenda, but there must be one," he said. "There's no building programme for prisons and they're selling prisons off."

'Bed-blocking'

He told Five Live: "We need prison camps. I mean, they're quite prepared to convert old military camps to house people coming into the country, which is the main problem in prisons, as we've got all these immigrants criminals that they willingly let in, now bed-blocking in prisons."

Mr Bates added that he did not believe tagging could work, saying its conditions could not be made tough enough.

However, he said, if people wanted to persist with them, one option was to "up the technicality of the tags".

"They could make it something like satellite tracking, that we can do with cars - but they have been experimenting with this for over two years and don't seem to making any progress," he said.

"The low-tech tag that we use now is easily removable by the offender for a night out or whenever they like and then they can put the darn thing back on."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Victor Bates on why he finds tagging an 'offensive' option





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