Just a day after reports that community service served as a better system for rehabilitation of repeat offenders than short prison sentences a second report has been released which says half the criminals electronically tagged can break their curfew.
Yesterday a report on the BBC showed how people who were sentenced to community service orders for petty crimes instead were less likely to reoffend. Speaking to people who were completing their community service, many claimed that it was much harder than prison whilst the compilers of the report claim it is an opportunity for offenders to adjust to the 9-5 routine as a high percentage of people who constantly re-offend are not in regular employment.
A key aspect of the community service orders are electronic tags. They are supposed to ensure curfews, and for some criminals, place a restriction on where they can travel.
A telephone is fitted in the home of the offender which can sense the signal of the tag over a designated distance. If, for example, the curfew is set for 7pm, then the telephone will alert the probation officer if the tag is not within range. At least that is what should happen, but according to many probation officers, it is not.
As well as offenders frequently breaking curfews, probation officers have said that often tags are not placed on offenders immediately with some offenders not receiving their tags for weeks.
Of course it is not just offenders on community service orders that should be tagged, many serious offenders are tagged after they leave prison and it is these that probation officers are most concerned about. There have been cases in the news over the past few weeks of a man charged with domestic abuse who managed to get back into his family home and attack his wife before police or probation officers were alerted.
There was also an even more tragic case of a teenager who was murdered by a 15-year-old who was not allowed out of his own home. Probation officers have said if they had been alerted to the boy leaving the house then he would have been rearrested before he could have committed a crime.
Theresa May has said today that ministers are committed to ensuring the system works properly, even if that means investing in new technology. May insisted that tags were an important tool in our justice system, “...but of course we want to make sure that it's working properly."