Tagging / Home Detention Curfew (HDC)

What is a Home Detention Curfew (HDC)/Tag? 

The Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme provides a managed transition from prison to community for prisoners serving short sentences. Individuals released early are subject to an electronically monitored (EM) curfew, requiring them to be at home for 9-12 hours per day. It allows them to live at home and to work while they finish their sentence.

The person will receive an electronic tag, a small device fitted to the ankle or wrist. The tag sends a regular signal to a monitoring centre, confirming the person's presence in their place of curfew. If they are absent or try to tamper with the equipment, the tag will alert the monitoring centre, and they will investigate the breach.

Who can be released on HDC?

HDC is only available to people in prison who are serving a sentence of at least 12 weeks but less than four years and who have served the requisite custodial period of the sentence. This is reached once the individual has served at least a quarter of the sentence, and a minimum of 28 days. The maximum period of release is 180 days (changed June 2023). As with any sentence, the custodial period might include time on remand in custody or on bail with an EM curfew (“tagged bail”), so release can occasionally take place very soon after sentence, although the law requires at least 14 days in custody post-sentence before an individual can be released on HDC.

Whether someone in prison can get released on HDC also depends on their 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 four years or more for any offence;
  • they have served less than 14 days since the date of sentence;
  • 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 currently serving a sentence for terrorism or terrorist connected offences;
  • they are serving a sentence for failing to return on ROTL, absconding or escaping;
  • 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 (i.e. not just those with a Deportation Order).

Even if they are eligible, there are many reasons they could be 'presumed unsuitable'. This includes:

  • category A prisoners;
  • 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;
  • anyone with a history of terrorist or terrorist connected offending but not currently serving a sentence for such an offence;
  • anyone who has been sentenced to four years or more imprisonment by an overseas court but who has less than four years to serve after repatriation to the UK;
  • plus, anyone serving a sentence for any of the following categories of offence:
    • homicide
    • explosives
    • possession of an offensive weapon
    • possession of firearms with intent
    • cruelty to Children
    • offences aggravated on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation
    • Covid-19 related offences;
    • terrorist offences
    • stalking, harassment, coercive control or non-fatal strangulation and suffocation offences (added July 2023)

How long does HDC last?

  • For sentences of 12 months to four years - a maximum of four and a half months.
  • For sentences less than 12 months - a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of three months.
  • Those serving between three and four months become eligible for HDC after one month in custody.
  • Those serving four to eight months become eligible after serving a quarter of their sentence.
  • Those serving more than eight months and less than four years become eligible four 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 consider 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 check the address the prisoner has given, and this will form part of their 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 only move in once 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 considered when the curfew hours are initially set.

For further help and support, contact the Prisoner's Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003 or go to www.prisonersfamilies.org