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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
'Big rise' in tagging crimes - MP
electronic tag
The tagging system was launched in 1999
Offenders released under the tagging system are committing, or being accused of, four times as many crimes as when the scheme began, a Tory MP claims.

Grant Shapps says one in 40 tagged offenders committed a crime when the project started in 1999, but by 2006 that had jumped to one in nine.

The new Ministry of Justice said the rise mainly reflected changes made in 2003 in the length of time of tagging.

It allows eligible prisoners to be freed 135 days early, instead of 60.

Mr Shapps, MP for Welwyn and Hatfield, obtained statistics by tabling Parliamentary Questions.

In a report, he said that on average nearly seven crimes were being committed every day by tagged offenders.

He claimed the figures showed the government was releasing unsuitable offenders early to relieve prison overcrowding.

He said: "It's now very clear that the prison population crisis has led to thousands of additional crimes by prisoners who have been selected for electronic tagging and thereby released too early from prison."

'Breaches treated seriously'

Electronic tagging, officially known as the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme, was launched in 1999. Since then, more than 137,000 prisoners have been released under the initiative, which has cost a total of 342 million.

Under the scheme, offenders are electronically tagged upon their release from jail and told to observe a curfew.

When it was launched, eligible prisoners could be released up to 60 days before the end of the custodial part of their sentences, but this rose in 2003 to 135 days.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the re-offending rate rise was to be expected as offenders were spending a longer period of time on the scheme.

But she said breaches were treated "very seriously indeed".

"Enforcement of HDC conditions is swift and effective and in cases where we are notified of prisoners being charged of further offences, we initiate their recall immediately," she said.

"The vast majority of those curfewees whose licences are revoked by the secretary of state are quickly arrested and returned to custody."




SEE ALSO
Call to abolish 'flawed' tagging
23 Mar 07 |  Nottinghamshire

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