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Tagging

Tagging

Tagging or Home Curfew Detention is available to certain prisoners.  There seems to be little knowledge of this amongst Solicitors and not one of the prisoners I spoke to knew about it before arriving in Prison.

Tagging is early release under license from Prison to live at home or some other approved address but you must agree to stay in your home during a curfew period, usually 7pm to 7am.  Failure to comply with the curfew or tampering with the monitoring equipment or electronic tag is likely to result in you being returned to prison.  No court hearing is required for this to happen.

Tagging is only available if you have a sentence of 3 months or more and less than 4 years. There are other conditions, see below.

If you are eligible you will be given the HDC forms with details of your release date.  It will tell you your HDC date if you get tagging.  All HDC forms are purple.  There will be purple form to complete to inform the Governor of the Prison of your address, who lives there and the status of the telephone line.  You also have to confirm that you want tagging.  Surely a daft question as only a fool would refuse and want to stay in Prison.

A normal telephone line must be in the house to which equipment can be permanently connected.  This equipment monitors the output from the tag and detects if you stray too far away from the monitor during the curfew hours.  The installers will convince you that it can detect if you go out into the garden and this would be regarded as a breach of the curfew. Whether it can detect such movement is unlikely but it really is not worth risking.  I found that I could not go into the cellar without setting off the equipment.

Eligibility

You are not eligible for tagging if:

Prisoners serving less than 3 months or more than 4 years.  Note serving means the sentence at the court not the actual time you expect to be in prison because the judge has told you that you will serve a specific period.
Young Offenders under the age of 18
Category A prisoners
Schedule 1 Offenders (except under exceptional circumstances)
Breaches of License    

It also seems unlikely that you will get tagging if you have ever been in breach of a court order, failed to surrender to bail and similar problems.

A risk assessment by the Probation Service will be undertaken.  The Officer will look at the following and might interview you.  Matters that are likely to get an unhelpful assessment are:

Risks to victims and the public
Likely to re-offend whilst on HDC
Likely to fail to abide by HDC conditions
Lack of suitable accommodation

Calculating your HDC

Sentence length Time to served before HDC
3 months but less than 4 months 30 days
4 months but less than 8 months one quarter of the sentence
8 months but less than 4 years half the sentence minus 60 days.

If you are successful in getting tagging you will be advised of your HDC Date and that it is confirmed.  You might not get this information until just a few days before release.

example

More information here

Your sentence is 4 months a total of 131 days.  (include each day of the month)

Half the sentence is 65 days.  (To calculate divide by 2 and round down to the nearest whole day)

Your HDC date in this case will be 33 days (To calculate divide by 4 and round up to the nearest whole day)

If you have Police Days ie days in a Police Cell or days Remanded in Custody these should be deducted from the number of days to the HDC date.  In the example, if you had already served 7 days Remanded in Custody and 2 days in Police Cells then you will be released in 33 - 7 -2 = 24 days.

If you are serving the full half of your sentence because you are not entitled to tagging you will be released on the morning of the 65th day.  If release is on a Saturday or Sunday or bank holiday then release will be allowed the day before.  So if release is on Saturday then you will be released on Friday.  In the case of Easter and you are due for release on Easter Monday then you will leave prison on the Thursday before.

If you get tagging you will be released on the morning of the 33rd day.  If release is on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday then released is delayed until the next normal working day.   In the case of a release on Good Friday your release will be deferred until the following Tuesday.

On the day of your release on Tagging you will be shown your license and be asked to sign it.  If you refuse to sign you will not be released.  You will also agree to provide the electricity supply for the monitoring equipment and maintain an uninterrupted supply.  The supply cost is around 1 per month.

You will be released to home at which you must arrive before 3pm, though this is obviously varied if long distances are involved.  You will be fitted with an electronic tag usually around the ankle.  This is the size of a large and bulky wrist watch.  The monitoring equipment is also installed even if the telephone line has not yet been installed.  Any interference with the equipment or the tag will get you back into jail very quickly.

Waiting for the tag man

Although the temptation is to have a few beers with the small amount of cash given to you on release, it is as well to stay reasonably sober if for no other reason than you will make the staff from the Tagging Firm jealous.

Tagging and monitoring is usually carried out by Premier Monitoring Services Ltd of PO Box 45, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1YF.  Freephone 08080 152 369.  They really are nice people so go easy on them.  You might have got used to the less than kind way in which Prison Officers address you so it will come as a shock to be addressed in a normal manner, with kindness, patience and respect.  Top marks to Premier for that.

If your new telephone line has not been installed Premier can insist that you release your own line to them for a period of 5 days.  Usually they will not bother and set up the equipment without a phone line.  However, this will involve them coming to your home three of four times a night and sitting outside in their diesel cars to pick up the signal from your tag.  If they cannot "see" the tag they will knock on your door.  I found them very friendly and helpful and indeed later when I also got problems with my own telephone line as a result of it being DAXed (shared) to allow the installation of the monitoring line by British Telecom they were able to well and truly sort through the diatribe of bureaucratic nonsense that only BT seem capable of.

Once tagged remember you cannot leave the house during curfew hours.  If you do so accidentally (I walked with a friend to her car and then realised) then ring their Freephone number and report the matter.  It is unlikely that they will even bother to talk to you further about the matter.  If, however, your monitoring shows you absent for a couple of hours without a good reason then you are likely to be whisked back to prison very quickly.

At the end of the tagging period (on the last day) the tag will be removed along with the equipment between 10pm and midnight or at some other time by agreement.

If you do not already have a phone in the house, or you want a second line, wait a couple of days and then ask BT to re-connect it.  They will do this free of charge whereas for a new installation there is a higher charge.