Electronic tagging was originally piloted in 1995, but a report by the BBC shows that the policing of electronic tagging has become lax. Is the system a good idea now that it is not allegedly being so strictly policed?
All the Yes points:
- British prisons are overcrowded
- Public survey shows support for electronic tagging
- An offender can be effectively tracked
- If an offender tries to remove a tag, they face consequences
All the No points:
- The system has become lax
- Violent crime has been committed
- Those who have served their time should no longer be monitored
- Tagged offenders have re-offended
- Tagging is a ‘soft option’
British prisons are overcrowded
Electronic tagging was initially introduced in an attempt to reduce crowding in British prisons. British prisons are overcrowded and this is a very good idea to relieve the overcrowding. At any one time, 2,000 people are tagged (1) and completing their sentences at home or in a hostel, therefore removing more people from busy prisons.
But at what cost? Surely it is better to build more prisons than to free offenders, back into the community where they can offend again? And doesn’t it act as less of a deterrent if prisoners know they will be released early?
Hampshire has currently up to 5,000 youths on electronic tag the police have no power of arrest the equipment is not failproof and is often not monitored effectively the system needs to be updated and reviewed there is no immediate penalty if breached the time delays of notification are 7-11 days for G4S to contact probation (if total breach is over 2 hours) and the time span for them to act is within 21 days if at all , it depends on their risk assessment . How do I know all this in march 2007 my son was murdered by Ricki Johnson who was on tag and had a strict curfew the fact that he was out from 5pm until 4am on the night he murdered Lewis and had continually breached his curfew and still no one realised even up until his remand for murder begs the question why multiple offenders (25 arrests and 11 convictions including violence and assulting an officer)are given a tag which relies on their participation I am in the process of petitioning for change before another innocent life is lost in this way .what do you think now !!!!
Public survey shows support for electronic tagging
Public survey shows that 64% of people believe that non-violent offenders should be tagged as opposed to being sent or kept in prison. 65% of people also believed that offenders should be tagged even if they have not presently been charged. The majority of the community think positively about the tagging system. (1)
The public are not the leading experts in the field and so little weight should be put on their opinions. Harry Fletcher, from the National Association of Probation Officers, said: “There’s still no evidence that it has reduced crime or prevented offenders from committing further offences.” Given this is a more reliable source, surely more weight should be put on this decision. The public do not know what is good for them until it is too late.???????? yes the public are the experts in the field because they are in the field, and Harry Fletcher is only justifying his job. The probation service is an expensive joke.
An offender can be effectively tracked
An offender can be tracked within two metres of their location. This is particularly vital for those who have been convicted of sex offences: an alarm goes off if they attempt to approach a previous or potential victim. Child sex offenders are tagged so that if they go near a school or park etc, a police car will be beside them almost immediately. This is obviously a very good deterrent and prevention device.
In terms of child sex offenders, it has been proved that most sex offences happen in the home: (1) there is nothing to stop offenders from luring children to their home. The tag only offers limited protection.
If an offender tries to remove a tag, they face consequences
The only circumstances where a subject would not face breach action for removing a tag would be on health and safety grounds. If an offender removes or damages their tag during their curfew period, the monitoring equipment at the premises immediately sends a signal to the computer system at the control centre. By removing a tag, the offender will either receive a custodial sentence, a fine or they can even be recalled to prison. Offenders are on the tag for a reason and there is no escaping from it.
What use is this when an offender can walk out of their home, commit an offence, return home and be punished later? It does not take long to commit a violent act, to steal or to cause damage to the community. Obviously the offender is not deterred by the punishments that await him or her.
The system has become lax
According to a recent BBC report, inspectors found that criminals who have been tagged can break their curfews for more than eleven hours and still not be arrested. The Tories said tags must be used ‘appropriately’ with ‘swift and effective sanctions’ for any breaches. (1) Surely this is how it should be? If tags were a good idea and effectively policed, the system would not be lax and an immediate arrest made if the curfew was breached.
Violent crime has been committed
It does not matter how many lives the electronic tagging system may save; it does not matter how much room it saves in prison: all that matters is that lives have been taken by those who have been electronically tagged. If these people had been inside prison, some young individuals would still be alive. Lewis Singleton, an 18 year-old, was brutally stabbed to death by a man who had a history of violence, and had previously burgled a residence a few days before when his curfew said he should have been at home. Lewis’s mother said: “People with a violent record shouldn’t be allowed curfew orders and liberty. If this had happened, Lewis might have had a chance and still be alive today”. (1)
Certainly, the safety of the community is paramount, but violent crime is only very scarce committed by those who are tagged.
Those who have served their time should no longer be monitored
It does not make sense that those who have served their time in prison should then be subject to an electronic tag around their ankle to ensure they stay at home during hours of darkness. Offenders who serve at least three months but less than four years can be released early, if they agree to be tagged. (1) Provided that prison has rehabilitated the prisoner, surely at the end of their sentence justice allows them to go out in the evening to. The electronic tag effectively extends the prison sentence.
The tag does not extend the prison sentence: it allows for the rest of the sentence to be continued outside the prison by being monitored.
Tagged offenders have re-offended
A BBC statistic shows that 2% of tagged offenders have re-offended while on the tag – most of these were driving offences. (1) It does not matter that 2% seems like a relatively small number: the fact on the matter is that it should be 0%. Harry Fletcher, from the National Association of Probation Officers, said: “There’s still no evidence that it has reduced crime or prevented offenders from committing further offences.”
Tagging is a ‘soft option’
Of course offenders prefer tagging to a life behind bars. Whenever a tagged offender takes advantage of his freedom to commit further crimes, it attracts damaging headlines. Tagging does not in itself achieve anything, apart from confining someone to the house. If it were to be combined with a probation order, it allows offenders to be worked with in a more structured way who might have been leading quite chaotic lives. It does not really act as a deterrent.
Tagging is not necessarily a soft option. Offenders are released from prison to be tagged for good behaviour and only if they were imprisoned for a lesser offence.
We would love to hear what you think – please leave a comment!