Home detention curfews (electronic tags)

What is a home detention curfew?

Home detention curfews (HDCs) – commonly referred to as electronic tagging – allow prisoners to be released from prison earlier than the end of their sentence to serve the rest of the sentence under an electronic monitoring device.

Who is eligible for a HDC?

Prisoners serving a sentence between three months and four years can be considered for such release. Early release is usually between two weeks and four and half months before their automatic release date, depending on the length of their sentence.

HDC is a privilege and not an absolute right of a prisoner and not all prisoners will be eligible. Ineligible prisoners are those who:

  • have committed violent or sex offences who are currently serving an extended sentence under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998;
  • are serving a sentence for failure to return to custody following a period of temporary release;
  • are subject to a hospital order, hospital direction or transfer direction under the Mental Health Act 1983;
  • have failed to comply with a curfew requirement of a community order;
  • are subject to the notification requirements of Pt 2 of the Sexual offences Act 2003;
  • are liable to removal from the UK;
  • have breached a HDC curfew condition;
  • have been released on licence for compassionate reasons and have been recalled to prison;
  • have less than 14 days remaining between the date of sentence and the date on which they will have served the requisite custodial period.

Prisoners serving sentences for certain offences are ‘presumed unsuitable’ and will only be released if the prison governor agrees to their exceptional circumstances. These offences are:

  • homicide;
  • explosives;
  • terrorism;
  • possession of offensive weapons;
  • possession of firearms with intent;
  • cruelty to children;
  • offences aggravated on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Applying for HDC

A prisoner will not have to follow any formal method of applying for a HDC. If they are eligible for early release on tag, then at around 10 weeks before the start of the curfew date, the prison will begin a risk assessment of releasing the prisoner back into the community. The prisoner may be approached to confirm details such as the address thry will be released on curfew to.

If a prison governor decides that a prisoner should be released on a HDC, the prisoner must be released on licence under s 34A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (as amended). The governor sets the licence conditions, including the times and place(s) of curfew. The prisoner must be informed of the licence conditions and, on the day of release, must sign the licence agreeing to these conditions.

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For more information on:

  • Refusal of HDC
  • How does HDC work?
  • What happens if the curfew is breached?
  • Making changes to HDC conditions
  • At the end of the curfew