Two out of three Norfolk criminals ignore tagging rules

Two in three suspects and criminals given electronic tags by Norwich's courts are ignoring the conditions of their curfew.

Dozens of convicted criminals and suspects on bail are attempting to remove their tags while Serco, the contractor responsible for the electronic monitoring, is only able to prosecute a handful of cases.

And the number of breaches from Norwich's courts is increasing, with 46pc of people tagged in 2009 reported for a breach, 52pc in 2010 and 62pc last year.

The figures, obtained by the EDP through the Freedom of Information Act, show 173 out of the 277 people given tags by Norwich's Magistrates' and Crown courts last year breached their curfews, including 38 who tampered with their tags.

The numbers raise questions over the use of electronic monitoring which is hailed as an alternative to prison and is becoming more widespread. There were 293 cases in 2009, 411 in 2010 and 393 in 2011.

Even those tagged by HMP Norwich, are tampering with their tags or ignoring conditions. In 2010, 33 of the 104 people tagged by the prison were reported for ignoring their curfew conditions and four tampered with their tags.

Barrister Ross Burrows, from KB Law, said: 'The figures suggest the curfew is not given as much respect by those punished as perhaps the courts believe they are.

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'If the message amongst those who have breached their curfew conditions is that they are not then prosecuted, the overall punishment behind the sentence suffers as a result.'

Serco is responsible for prosecuting breaches where tagging is only used with no punishments other than a curfew. The company monitors more than 10,000 offenders across England and Wales.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'Anyone who breaches the terms of their electronic curfew can be sent back to court for further punishment.'

But of the 173 breaches in 2011, only 40 were prosecuted by Serco.

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