Tougher community sentences will see offenders forced to spend longer in their homes, Crispin Blunt confirmed today.
Extending the maximum daily curfew time from 12 to 16 hours, and the period for which they can be imposed from six to 12 months, will better protect communities and ensure offenders face meaningful punishments that help stop them reoffending. Curfews not only restrict liberty but they can bring order to chaotic lives.
These new proposals are part of the Government’s plans to reform sentencing and tackle the root causes of offending.
Minister for Prisons and Probation Crispin Blunt said:
‘These tougher curfew conditions will keep offenders off the street for longer, stop them socialising in the evenings and keep them away from situations that could land them in trouble again.
‘This is part of our proposals to reform the Criminal Justice System and will help to keep communities safe whilst important work is done with offenders to turn them away from a life of crime.’
The increased powers will allow courts to vary curfew hours from day to day, for example during the week and at weekends, and to divide them into different blocks within the day.
About 24,000 individuals are being electronically monitored at any one time. If an offender breaches the terms of their curfew, he or she can be sent back to court for further punishment.
Since 2005 two suppliers have successfully operated electronic monitoring services in England and Wales - these contracts are soon due for re-competition and will focus on the Government’s drive to raise standards in public protection and help to further cut re-offending.
Other measures being taken forward in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill include a review of Imprisonment for Public Protection sentences, with a view to replacing them with a tougher determinate sentence regime and a greater use of life sentences. We are also looking to introduce a new offence of aggravated knife possession, with a mandatory prison sentence of at least six months.
Notes to editors
- Please find details of a curfew case study at Annex A. Contact Helen Sanderson Walker at G4S on 07841 969 184, if you wish to arrange an interview with the case study.
- The current legislation provides for curfews of up to 12 hours per day and for a maximum of six months. Any requirement imposed under a community order should not interfere with the times at which a person normally works or attends education.
- Read the Government’s response to the Breaking the Cycle and Reform of Legal Aid consultations and the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
- Further information on the competition strategy.
- For more information on sentencing please visit www.sentencing.justice.gov.uk
- For any further information please contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.
Annex A - Case Study
Stephen Sheenan, 24, Merseyside
Stephen was sentenced to a Single Requirement Community Order in January 2011, the only requirement of which was a five- month curfew. Stephen was to comply with a daily curfew from 7pm to 7am.
After successfully completing his curfew at the end of May 2011, Stephen was really positive about his time on curfew.
Stephen commented that he had actually found the curfew as a real turning point in his life, and was happy to talk about the benefits of being on tag.
‘I actually enjoyed it as it meant that I was able to spend time with my girlfriend. I have definitely changed since being on tag, and can see that it’s far better then going to prison which I don’t think would have worked for me as it was my first offence. It definitely works as it really teaches you a lesson.
‘It has really changed my perspective on life, and gives you the opportunity to see what you have done, and as you are restricted to what you can do it allows you to understand that you are being punished. It felt like I was being punished, and very like being grounded when I was a kid.
‘The curfew has actually meant that I’ve been able to change my life around. It was easy to keep to as I was always able to get home for 7pm and allowed me to sort my life out.
‘I’m now going to university in September and looking forward to a new time in my life.’
Stephen said he is happy to talk about his time on curfew and how it has changed him.