HC Deb 17 March 2000 vol 346 cc378-80W
Mr. Lidington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the prisoners released to date under the Home Detention Curfew scheme have(a) breached the conditions of the curfew, (b) disappeared, (c) had their curfew revoked and (d) re-offended whilst on the scheme; what offences were committed by those who re-offended whilst on the scheme; what was the (i) average and (ii) maximum sentence received by a prisoner for an offence committed whilst on the scheme; and if he will make a statement. [112728]

Mr. Boateng

[pursuant to his reply, 3 March 2000, c. 448–49W]: I am now in a position to provide further information regarding the breach and revocation of Home Detention Curfew licences. In addition, my previous reply included a number of inaccurate figures, arising from administrative errors. These figures have now been corrected.

As at 29 February 2000, 17,792 prisoners had been placed on the Home Detention Curfew scheme. At this date, there had been 625 breaches of curfew. Unauthorised absences from the place of curfew during the curfew period, tampering with the equipment and violence directed at the monitoring contractors' staff count as violations. There are different levels of violations. The most serious violations, or an accumulation of less serious violations, constitute a breach of the curfew.

Those subject to Home Detention Curfew may be recalled to prison if: there is a breach of the curfew; their whereabouts can no longer be electronically monitored; it is necessary to protect the public from serious harm; and they commit an offence or breach any requirement of probation supervision.

As at 29 February 2000, 832 of those placed on Home Detention Curfew have had their licences revoked by the Secretary of State, as opposed to the figure of 862 published in my earlier reply. As previously indicated, breaches of non-curfew related conditions by curfewees whose original offences were committed prior to 1 January 1999 are dealt with by the courts. Information on these cases is not held centrally.

As my previous reply made clear, the vast majority of those curfewees whose licences are revoked by the Secretary of State are quickly arrested and returned to custody. Fifty were unlawfully at large on 29 February 2000. While the priority to be given to pursuing individual cases will be an operational matter for local police forces, Home Office Circular 1/1999 made clear that Home Detention Curfew recalls should be regarded as "urgent action" cases. In addition, the National Identification Service at New Scotland Yard issues "The Police Gazette" weekly to all police forces, including details of curfewees who are unlawfully at large. The Prison Service regularly monitors police progress in apprehending those curfewees who are unlawfully at large. When curfewees are apprehended following a period unlawfully at large, they are required to serve the full period of time outstanding at the point their licence was revoked.

As of 29 February, the Prison Service had received notification of 182 curfewees who had been charged with an offence committed while subject to the Home Detention Curfew scheme, rather than the figure of 194 given in my previous reply.

A revised breakdown of the offences with which the curfewees were charged is shown in the table. This breakdown has been prepared from information supplied by police forces and drawn from the police national computer. As previously indicated, further analysis of re-offending by those subject to Home Detention Curfew, including the procedures for notification of further charges to the Prison Service by the police, is currently under way as part of a long-term evaluation of the scheme.

The purpose of Home Detention Curfew is to help prisoners bridge the transition from custody to the community through the structure and discipline imposed by the curfew. The scheme only applies to short-term prisoners and no prisoner can be granted Home Detention Curfew without first passing a risk assessment. Overall, the Home Detention Curfew scheme has an impressive success rate of 95 per cent. of curfewees completing their period of curfew licence. However, as I made clear in my previous reply, we are not complacent about any re-offending on curfew and the scheme is strictly enforced.

Offence type Number
Burglary, theft and stealing from shops (including taking without consent/taking and driving away) 65
Assault 31
Driving and traffic offences 16
Drug offences 15
Breach of the peace (including drunk and disorderly) 14
Handling stolen goods/deception 10
Criminal damage 10
Threatening behaviour 8
Possession of an offensive weapon 3
Breach of court injunction or restraining order 3
Rape 2
Harassment 1
Going equipped 1
False imprisonment
Arson 1
Indecent exposure 1
Total 182


Where a curfewee was charged with more than one offence, they appear in the table next to the most serious offence. The table excludes those where, following initial notification, the Prison Service was informed that the charges had been withdrawn.

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