Teenage criminals facing 'house arrest' to prevent re-offending




  • In US
  • 2020-09-16 17:48:40Z
  • By The Telegraph
Teenage criminals facing \
Teenage criminals facing \'house arrest\' to prevent re-offending  

Teenage criminals face lengthy and punitive 'house arrests' to prevent them re-offending, under a crackdown announced by ministers.

In a white paper on sentencing, Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, proposed giving judges the power to impose a "tough new form of 'house detention' that severely restricts liberty."

It would be enforced through GPS electronic tags that would immediately alert police and probation officers if they tried to leave their house. They would only be allowed out to attend training, education or a job.

Courts could also impose extra restrictions including sobriety tags, which would alert probation officers if they started drinking, curbs on internet use, and compulsory attendance at drug or alcohol treatment centres.

"This would be a robust order, which would be served in the community and would be based on a highly restrictive and lengthy curfew, that would fully exploit GPS tagging technology," said the white paper.

"We envisage the order would provide a strong punitive response to crime in a way that current community sentences do not, while enabling those offenders in training, education or employment to maintain those obligations."

Mr Buckland plans pilots of the orders for under-21s before extending them nationwide and potentially to older criminals. They would not be used against those who would have otherwise received a custodial sentence.

Low-level offenders jailed for less than six months are on average responsible for 65 crimes "with community sentences having been tried and failed," according to the white paper.

Eighty per cent of crime is committed by re-offenders.

In a further toughening of community sentences, courts will get powers to extend curfews on offenders from the current limit of one year to two years.

They could also impose longer curfews of up to 20 hours a day, primarily at weekends, to "increase the punitive nature of a curfew but also enhance rehabilitative benefits such as cutting ties between offenders and criminal associates," said the white paper.

The reforms are designed to boost the chances of rehabilitation of offenders who would otherwise be in and out of prison on short-term sentences at the same time as protecting the public.

The approach is allied to longer sentences for serious offenders which will increase prisoner numbers by 2,600 by 2028 at a cost of about £1 billion, equivalent to £385,000 per place, according to an impact assessment.

The Government is committed to a £2.5 billion, 10,000 prison place expansion.

Mr Buckland also said he wanted to encourage greater use of "deferred sentences" under which criminals can escape jail or other punishments if they agree to rehabilitation. The judge can lift the threat of prison up to six months after the deferral if their rehabilitation has been successful.

The Justice Secretary said it would be for "exceptional circumstances."

"What we mustn't do is create an artificial incentive that leads to false compliance," he added.

Victims of violent and sex offences will for the first time to get an automatic legal right to know when their attacker will be released from jail and what measures are in place to protect the public.

The move will be included in a new victims' law and aims to end scandals where families have been left in the dark only to subsequently discover the offender has been released or is about to be let out of jail, as happened with black cab rapist John Worboys.

Under the proposed changes, victims will no longer have to opt into the so-called "victim contact scheme" but will automatically be included and then decide if they want to opt out.

Labour's shadow justice secretary David Lammy urged the Government not to apply tougher sentences "gratuitously" but said the party welcomed the reforms to "protect the British public".

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