What is a Home Detention Curfew/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 is eligible?

Prisoners serving sentences of more than 3 months, but less than 4 years, who are over 18 years of age. They will not be eligible if they are:

  • Category A prisoners
  • Required to register under Part One of the Sex Offenders Act 1997
  • Detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Serving a sentence for any offence involving actual or attempted homicide (ie. Murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, threats to kill, conspiracy to murder, death by dangerous or reckless driving), offences involving explosives, serious offences involving possession of offensive weapons or firearms (eg. Possession with intent), cruelty to children, racially aggravated offences or sexual offences.
  • Serving a sentence for failing to return to custody after temporary release or have been released on Home Detention Curfew (HDC) before but did not comply with the curfew
  • Liable for deportation
  • Civil prisoners, ie in prison for fine default or contempt of court.

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.