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Prisoners: Tagging

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the differences between the proposed Northern Ireland tagging of prisoners regime and that used in England; whether a convicted person's religious beliefs and observances outside the home are taken into account in England; and, if so, how. [HL874]

Electronic tagging of offenders and defendants has been operating throughout England and Wales since 1999, and is used as a means to monitor curfews which are available as an option in community sentencing, as a bail condition and as a condition of release from prison, with the person remaining in the community. The monitoring service is provided by two private sector companies under contracts with the Ministry of Justice.

Electronic tagging in Northern Ireland is due to commence in April 2009 and the procedures underpinning its implementation are still under development. In Northern Ireland, it is intended that electronic monitoring will be available to monitor curfews as a condition of bail, as a licence condition or as a requirement of a community sentence. The technology will be the same as that used in England and Wales and the monitoring service will be provided by a private sector organisation under contract with the Northern Ireland Office.

Before a court or prison governor in England and Wales issues an offender with a curfew requirement with electronic tagging it should, as far as is practicable, avoid any conflict with religious beliefs and observances. This is specified in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for those subject to a community sentence, and in Prison Service Order 6700 for those released early on home detention curfew (HDC). This may. for example, take the form of a pre-notified schedule of variations to curfew times to allow attendance at religious services without violating the terms of their court order or licence.