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The BBC's Jeremy Ball
"More than 500 broke their curfews or tampered with their tagging equipment"
 real 28k

Jack Straw MP, Home Secretary
"Home detention curfew has been remarkably successful"
 real 28k

Peter Gammon, Superintendants Association
"To hail it as a success, after a year, is too early"
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 09:31 GMT
Tagged prisoners 'breaking curfews'




Hundreds of tagged prisoners have broken their curfews in the first year of an early-release scheme, the BBC has learned.

But the Prison Service says most former inmates have complied with their curfew conditions - and the majority of applications for early release have been turned down.



The system is working, and it is working well
Jack Straw
Almost 16,000 prisoners have been allowed to complete their sentences on Home Detention Curfew - including the former cabinet minister, Jonathan Aitken.

They are fitted with an electronic tag which sends an alarm signal if they leave home at night.

In the scheme's first year, 95% of offenders have complied with their early-release conditions.


tagging Tagging was suggested as a 21st Century alternative to jail
But more than 500 others were sent back to jail for breaching curfews or damaging the tagging equipment.

Another 224 former inmates could not be monitored. Many of them had gone missing.

But Home Secretary Jack Straw has defended tagging schemes as "remarkably successful".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is a 95% compliance rate with it, which is extraordinary, we have worked extremely hard to ensure that it is successful.

"One of the reasons that it is successful is that if prisoners are foolish enough to break their curfew to any significant degree they get taken straight back to prison."

The Prison Service says on an average day, about 40 early-release prisoners are unlawfully at large.

At least 160 offenders have committed further crimes during Home Detention Curfew.

The Police Superintendents' Association believes those recorded offences may just be the tip of the iceberg.

But the Prison Reform Trust says Home Detention Curfew has succeeded in reducing overcrowding in jails.

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See also:
15 Jan 00 |  Football
Football first for tagged player
07 Jan 00 |  e-cyclopedia
Electronic tagging: A virtual prison?
16 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Stalkers could be tagged, says Blair

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