HC Deb 12 July 2004 vol 423 cc1121-2
15. Angela Watkinson (Upminster) (Con)

For what reasons the home detention curfew scheme is being extended to a maximum of 135 days. [183098]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins)

The maximum curfew period available under the home detention curfew scheme was increased from 90 days to 135 days 12 months ago. That change provides earlier resettlement opportunities for lower risk offenders and helps to manage the prison population. At the same time, we also introduced a presumption against release for prisoners convicted of certain serious offences.

Angela Watkinson

To exactly what category of offences is the scheme to be extended? Will the Under-Secretary give the House an assurance that serious offenders, who serve seven-year sentences for street robbery, and drug offenders will not be included in the scheme? If they are to be included, has a proper risk assessment of public safety been conducted?

Paul Goggins

I am sure that I can reassure the hon. Lady. There is a presumption against people who have committed certain offences—violent offences, sexual offences, cruelty to children and so on—who cannot even be considered under this scheme. It is only available for prisoners serving sentences between three months and four years. Therefore anybody serving seven years would not be eligible. I confirmed earlier that we are not seeking to extend the scheme. Finally, of those who are eligible, only 39 per cent. are granted home detention curfew. Risk assessment is therefore taken very seriously.