HL Deb 20 April 1998 vol 588 c196WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will recommend to the courts the use of electronic tagging in cases involving girls under 18, where local authority secure accommodation is not available, whether for remand in custody or in lieu of a sentence of imprisonment. [HL1411]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

It is the Government's responsibility to ensure that courts have the powers they need to deal with offenders who appear before them. Within the broad statutory limits set by Parliament, it is for the courts to consider the circumstances of each individual case and the options available to them. The Government are carrying out careful evaluation of the place that electronically monitored curfews may have among those options, including its potential role for juvenile offenders. A number of trials are currently in progress. These are:

Electronically-monitored curfew orders made under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 are available for offenders aged 16 and over convicted of an offence in the trial areas of Greater Manchester, Berkshire, Norfolk, West Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and the Middlesex Probation Service area. So far, six such orders have been made for girls aged 18 and under. On 17 March, we announced our intention to make this sentence available to courts in all areas, though the timetable for national implementation has yet to be finalised.

Separately, trials began in January this year of the use of electronically-monitored curfew orders for 10–15 year-olds in both Greater Manchester and Norfolk. These trials started at the beginning of this year and will run until July 1999 when we will assess the effectiveness of electronic tagging for this age group and how to proceed.

Limited trials of an electronically-monitored curfew as a condition of bail for defendants aged 16 and over are also under way. One trial started on 1 April in Norwich and another will start in Manchester on 1 July. Each trial will run for around three months and we will consider next steps in the light of these trials.

Additionally, under provisions contained in the Crime and Disorder Bill, selected short-term prisoners aged 18 or over who have passed a risk assessment carried out by the Prison Service may be eligible to spend up to the last two months of their sentence subject to an electronically-monitored curfew. A decision as to whether to extend this licence—Home Detention Curfew—to juveniles will be made in the light of the effectiveness of the trials of court-ordered curfews for juveniles.