NAPO, the Trade Union and Professional Association for Family Court and Probation Staff, is calling for the scrapping of Electronic Tags to monitor Home Detention Curfew Orders on the grounds of cost effectiveness and the worrying number of breaches of such orders which are not properly monitored by the private sector contractors. They claim that Electronic Tagging costs nearly twice as much as conventional probation, and is less effective in terms of re-offending rates.
"Harry Fletcher, Assistant General Secretary of Napo said:
'Electronic Monitoring is now a multi-million pound business set for a major expansion after the election, yet the figures clearly show that the profit is huge and hardly value for money. It is also extraordinary that violations are not monitored or routinely followed up. There is an overwhelming case for the withdrawal of the curfew order. The time is surely right for an independent assessment of this concept.'"
NAPO have published a pretty damning review of the existing Home Office Electronic Tagging schemes (.doc).
This raises huge questions about the dangers which the planned extension of this "technological magic fix" approach to social problems poses, especially the planned extension to dangerous recidivist criminals on the Violent and Sexual Offender Register and to the alleged terrorist suspects subjected to Control Orders.
If the Home Office and its private sector contractors cannot properly manage fixed line, fixed location curfew monitoring, what hope is there that they will do a proper job with mobile phone/global positioning satellite based electronic tags ?