What is a Home Detention Curfew (HDC)/Tag?
Some prisoners are released early subject to a curfew which requires them to be at home for between 9-12 hours per day, allowing them to live at home and to work during the final weeks of their sentence. They are given an electronic tag, a small device which is fitted to the ankle or wrist. The tag sends a regular signal to a monitoring centre which confirms the presence of the person in their place of curfew. If they are absent or try to tamper with the equipment the monitoring centre is alerted and the breach investigated.
Who can be released on HDC?
Whether someone in prison can get released on HDC depends on things like their sentence length, current and previous offences and their behaviour during this and previous sentences.
Someone will not be eligible for HDC if any of the following apply:
- they are serving 4 years or more for any offence;
- they have been convicted of a sexual offence and are required to register;
- they are currently serving an extended sentence for violent or sexual offences;
- they are serving a sentence for failing to return on ROTL, absconding or escape;
- they are serving a sentence for breach of the curfew requirement of a Community Order
- they have ever been recalled to prison for failing to comply with HDC curfew conditions;
- they have ever been returned to custody by the court for committing an imprisonable offence during an ‘at-risk period’ of a previous sentence.
- they are currently serving a recall from early release on compassionate grounds;
- they are a foreign national who has been recommended for deportation by the court or they are liable to deportation and a decision to deport has been served.
Even if they are eligible there are a number of reasons they could be ‘presumed unsuitable’. This includes:
- anyone with a history of sexual offending but not required to register;
- foreign national offenders liable to deportation but not yet served with a decision to deport
- anyone who has been recalled for poor behaviour during a previous period of HDC
Plus, anyone serving a sentence for any of the following categories of offence:
- Possession of an offensive weapon
- Possession of firearms with intent
- Cruelty to Children
- Racially aggravated offences
How long does Home Detention Curfew last?
HDC lasts a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 3 months for those serving less than 12 months, and a maximum of 4 and a half months for those serving 12 months to 4 years. Those serving between 3 and 4 months become eligible for HDC after 1 month in custody. Those serving 4 to 8 months become eligible after serving a quarter of their sentence and those serving more than 8 months and less than 4 years become eligible 4 and a half months before their automatic or conditional release date. Time spent on remand counts towards eligibility.
If they meet all the criteria will they automatically get HDC?
No. Before HDC can be granted the prisoner has to undergo a risk assessment and interview which involves the prison, probation service and police, and sometimes doctors, social services and victims. It will take into account their prison record, previous convictions and the suitability of their home address. If HDC is refused, the person will be told this and given the reasons why.
What is a suitable home address?
The probation service on the outside will be asked to check the address the prisoner has given, and this will form part of the risk assessment. They may want to visit the family to assess the effect HDC might have on them and to ensure that everyone living at the address is aware of all the implications of having someone on HDC living there.
Do they have to stay at the same address?
The duration of the curfew must be spent at the same address. This can only be changed in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Governor. The new address will be subject to the same checks and the person may not move in until it has been approved.
What if they need to leave the home during curfew hours?
One-off absences can be granted in special circumstances subject to prior approval. These can include:
- Attending a wedding or funeral of a close relative
- Unexpected medical appointments
- Job interviews or attendance at job club or benefit office
- Attendance at court as a witness or defendant
- The person will have to provide proof of the reason for their absence.
- Regular commitments such as attending a place of worship, shift work or education can be accommodated and should be taken into account when the curfew hours are initially set.
This page was updated on October 2018