What is a Home Detention curfew?
Home Detention Curfews is most commonly referred to as ‘tag’. This allows prisoners to be released from prison earlier that the end of their sentence to serve the remainder of the sentence under an electronic monitoring device.
Who is eligible for a Home Detention Curfew?
Prisoners serving a sentence between three months and 4 years can be considered for such release. Early release is usually between two weeks and 135 days earlier than the half way point of the sentence.
It is common than prisoners serving sentences of this length to automatically receive a date for release on tag, However, this is a privilege and not an absolute right of a prisoner and not all prisoners will be eligible despite receive a possible date.
Applying for Home Detention Curfew
A prison will not have to follow any formal method of applying for a Home Detention Curfew. If they are eligible for early release on tag, then at around 10 weeks before the start of the curfew date the prison service 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 s/he will be released on curfew to.
Refusing Home Detention Curfew
If a prisoner has been refused a Home Detention Curfew, then he will be informed of the details and reason why.
A prisoner can appeal such a decision in the usual way, through the prison complaints procedure.
How does Home Detention Curfew work?
When a prison is released on tag they are required to stay at the registered address (usually the home address or relatives address), that will have been approved prior to the release, for the duration of their curfew.
An electronic tag will be attached to the prisoner’s ankle, and resembles a bulky watch.
The electronic tag is waterproof and shockproof, so the prisoner can wash and bath as normal.
The electronic ‘Tag’
When the prisoner is fitted with the tag, a monitoring box will be installed in the property registered for the prisoner’s curfew.
This will be able to monitor when the prison is in the property to show whether or not the curfew conditions have are being complied with. When the prisoner leaves the property, a signal will be sent to the control centre to notify them of his absence.
If the person leaves the property during his curfew hours, the control centre will be notified and he will be in breach of the Home Detention Curfew.
What happens if the curfew is breached?
If the curfew is breached, either by the person leaving the property during the curfew hours, or as a result of the person tampering with the device, the contractors will act immediately.
This may result in the person being arrested and returned to custody, or back to court. The person may then serve the remainder of the sentence in prison or the terms of the curfew may be altered. The court will decide.
Making changes to the Home Detention Curfew
Change of address
Usually the registered and approved address linked with the Home Detention curfew must remain the same through the detention.
If a person is on tag from a prison, in exceptional circumstance, upon application to the prison Governor Changes may be made.
If the person is on bail from the court or a community order, where electronic tagging is a requirement, the person must seek the Courts permission before any changes are made to the registered address.
Change of curfew hours
The hours a person is under curfew are only usually changed if they interfere with caring responsibilities or employment opportunities.
The person on curfew must contact the Governor of the prison they were released from, or the court if they are on order from court, and explain the situation before any changes are made.
Leaving the registered address during curfew hours
In certain situations, a person may request to leave the property during curfew hours. Thos permission must be granted before a person may leave during this time. It is usual for a person to request such permission for special occasions such as:
A wedding or funeral of a close relative (permission usually granted for the service only)
A job interview
Attending court as a witness, or
Emergencies ( hospital treatment etc)
A person requesting such leave must contact the contractors who fitted the electronic device (contact details provided when the device is fitted). They must contact the contractors at least 24 hours before they need to leave within curfew hours.
They will need to speak to customer services to find out:
The name and contact details of the person they need to seek permission from
The evidence they need to provide in support of the application (I.e. letter for job interview, hospital appointment)
The person applying for leave will need to wait until the permission has been granted before they leave during the curfew hours.
If the reason for leaving during curfew hours is an emergency, they must contact the contractors as soon as possible after detracting from the curfew to explain the reasons and provide the relevant evidence in support.
At the end of the curfew
The contractors who fitted the initial device will visit the property to remove the monitoring system; this can be any time up to midnight.
It is important that the tagged person is at home at this time so their electronic tag can be removed.
If the person is not at home, then the contractors may contact the police to report that the device is unobtainable, and essential it has been stolen by the individual.