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A seven-part series of exclusive features focusing on different aspects of crime.
arrowIntroduction
arrow Yob culture
arrowElectronic tagging
arrowMiscarriages of justice
arrowOrganised crime
arrowCybercrime
arrowDrug courts
arrowPolice and firearms
Perspectives
arrowTag control: Monitoring the offenders
arrowLiving with a curfew: Simonís story
Talking Point
arrowIs tagging the solution for non-violent offenders?
Forum
arrowAnn Widdecombe and Simon Hughes answer your questions
arrowLord Bassam answers your questions
survey
Should non-violent offenders be tagged or sent, or kept in prison?
survey results 1
Electronic tagging should be used to keep track of offenders even those not presently charged with an offence
survey results 2
arrowMore on the survey
Links
arrow Home Detention Curfew
arrow Prison Reform Trust
arrowAssociation of Chief Officers of Probation: Electronic Monitoring
arrow Premier Monitoring
arrow Electronic Monitoring for Pretrial Release
arrow Crime Reduction Youth

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Simon'r parents
Simonís parents, Sue and Mal, agree that a home detention curfew is better than prison

Simon
Simon tells Peter Gould that he wonít be getting into trouble again
Living with a curfew
Simon is 18, a lively teenager with lots of friends and an active social life. It is Saturday night, and he wants nothing more than to be down the pub with his mates, or preparing to go out on the town.

But it is just past eight o'clock, and the electronic tag strapped to his ankle means that if he steps outside the family home, he's in trouble.

Simon's curfew means he must remain indoors from 8pm until 5am every night for six months. It was imposed by a Crown Court judge as Simon's punishment for getting involved in a fight outside a city centre club. The charges he faced were affray and causing actual bodily harm, serious enough to have put him behind bars.

'A good deal'

"They said I was looking at three years in prison," says Simon. "From what my barrister said, I think I've got a good deal. I can still go to work, still see my friends, and still do some of the things I enjoy."

In addition to being tagged for six months, Simon was ordered to pay £3,000 in compensation to his victim, and will have to spend 200 hours doing community service. He realises that he was lucky to escape a custodial sentence, but he feels he is still being punished. "Being in at eight o'clock for a person of my age is just horrible. You're leaving the pub and all your mates are about to get to the pub. You can't go into the city or anything," he says.

Simon is fortunate because many of his friends make an effort to visit him at home, and his parents have supported him during what they realise is a very difficult time for him.

"He's a big socialiser, he was very rarely in on any night of the week, whether it was playing football, training, or socialising up the pub, playing darts," says Mal, Simon's father. "He was a big team member for a lot of different sports, and he's lost that now. Taking into consideration Christmas as well, I think that's hurt him. It's the same as scolding any young boy. You put a boy to bed early and they don't like it, and that's what has happened to him."

Second chance

His mother, Sue, says he has taken the curfew very seriously. She is just relieved that her son did not end up in jail.

"I would rather him be tagged, and put up with him being at home every night tormenting me than I would him being in prison, knowing I'm not there to protect him. If he'd gone to prison I don't think he would have been the same boy when he came out. Although he's nearly 19, I'm his Mum and I still like to know I can look out for him. He's my youngest, my baby, and I don't think I could have coped with it."

Simon is about half way through his six months tagging sentence, and admits there have been times when he wondered if he would have been better off going to prison. "I keep saying that if I'd gone to prison for four months or something I wouldn't have needed to pay the £3,000 compensation, and the community service would have been wiped out as well. But some mates who have actually been there say no, you don't want to do that at all, stay out," he says.

So is Simon likely to get into trouble again, after his experience of going to court and being tagged?

"No, I won't do it again," he says firmly. "I can't do it again because if I do I will be in prison. So no more fighting."

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