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Home Detention Curfew Scheme: Reoffending

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The latest information shows that fewer than 2 per cent. of the 20,632 prisoners placed on home detention curfew by 15 May 2000 had committed further offences whilst subject to the scheme.

Interrogation of data on the police national computer (PNC) (covering 14,646 of the 14,837 prisoners placed on home detention curfew up to 31 December 1999) indicates that, as at 13 April 2000, 351 of this group had been convicted of, or cautioned for, an offence committed whilst subject to the home detention curfew scheme, or had a prosecution pending in respect of such an offence. In addition, there are 44 cases where the Prison Service has been notified of new charges involving prisoners placed on home detention curfew in 2000 and prisoners placed on home detention curfew in 1999 who could not be traced on the police national computer. (The figure of 44 excludes cases where the Prison Service is aware that charges were brought but not proceeded with, or resulted in acquittal.) This means that at 15 May 2000, the total number of cases where the Prison Service knew of convictions, cautions or pending prosecutions in respect of curfewees was 395, or 1.9 per cent. of the total.

Table 1 gives a breakdown of the offences which led to convictions or cautions or where prosecutions are pending. Table 2 shows the number of cases in which these offences are similar in type to the original offence leading to a custodial sentence, and provides a breakdown.

Figures used in responding to previous Parliamentary Questions in relation to reoffending by those placed on the home detention curfew scheme (both in 1999 and 2000) were based on information about charges reported to the Prison Service by the police. The Prison Service had previously been notified of 171 cases where charges had been brought against offenders placed on home detention curfew in 1999, and 37 cases involving offenders placed on home detention curfew in 2000.

The interrogation of data from the police national computer was undertaken as part of the continuing evaluation of the home detention curfew scheme by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate. The evaluation exercise has not to date covered those placed on home detention curfew in the current year, but regular updates are planned.

The figures obtained from the police national computer cannot be compared directly with those previously used in responding to Parliamentary

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Questions. The new figures are based on convictions, cautions and pending prosecutions, rather than charges reported to the Prison Service by the police. However, the figures show that there has been some under-reporting of charges by the police.

This means that the procedures for notifying the Prison Service of curfewees charged with further offences have not fully been followed. These procedures are set down in Home Office Circular 1/99, issued to chief constables and police home detention curfew liaison officers in January 1999. The circular requires the police to notify the Prison Service either at the time the charge is laid or at the first opportunity thereafter. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has written today to the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, asking that the association give this matter its attention and identify what further steps can be taken to improve compliance with the circular. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary will also be monitoring actions taken by the police to improve compliance with the notification procedures.

As a reinforcing measure, other agencies will also be asked to alert the Prison Service to any case that comes to their attention where a curfewee has been charged with an offence committed whilst subject to curfew. As already indicated, the police national computer will also be interrogated on a regular basis in order to monitor the effectiveness of the notification procedures, and to ensure that information on the numbers of convictions, cautions and pending prosecutions is kept up to date.

Although more curfewees have been charged with further offences than originally notified, overall compliance with the scheme remains high. Taking account of the new information, the successful completion rate is around 94 per cent (93.6 per cent).

The scheme is designed to ensure a better transition for short term offenders between custody and the community. Prisoners are only placed on home detention curfew after a careful risk assessment. The safety of the public is paramount at all times and with this in mind, prison governors will be reminded of the importance, when considering a prisoner's suitability for home detention curfew, of assessing the likelihood of reoffending whilst subject to curfew.

Table 1
Breakdown of cases involving offences which led to convictions or cautions or where prosecutions are pending

No.
Total395
Manslaughter0
Other homicide and attempted homicide
Attempted murder0
Making threats to kill5
Conspire, aid, incite murder0
Death by reckless driving0
Wounding
Wounding (inflicting GBH)6
Assault occasioning ABH11
Assault with intent to cause GBH1
Assaults
Assault with intent to resist arrest0
Other assault16
Obstruct/resist constable0
Assault on police officer9
Cruelty to children0
Other violence against the person
Cause explosion, place explosive0
Possess firearms with intent0
Possess offensive weapon4
Other violence against the person4
Sexual Offences
Rape*3
Buggery0
Indecent assault0
Unlawful sexual intercourse0
Abduction0
Bigamy0
Burglary21
Robbery4
Taking and driving away2
Other theft94
Handling stolen goods14
Fraud11
Forgery2
Drugs offences
Production0
Supply8
Possession with intent4
Possession30
Unlawful import/export1
Other drugs offences6
Arson1
Criminal damage19
In charge or driving under the influence of drink or drugs18
Reckless driving3
Other motoring offences34
Drunkenness0
Blackmail0
Kidnapping0
Affray7
Violent disorder7
Perjury/libel/pervert the course of justice2
Threat/disorderly behaviour4
Breach of Court Order13
Other offences22
Offence not recorded9

Notes:

* One of the three rape cases was listed on PNC as pending prosecution, and is therefore included in the table. However, the Prison Service has since been informed that the offender was acquitted. The two other rape cases were previously known to the Prison Service and have been referred to in replies to earlier Parliamentary Questions.

1. The table includes all 351 cases drawn from the PNC analysis and the 44 cases where the data is based on police notifications (excluding those cases where, following initial notification of a charge, the Prison Service was informed that the charges had been withdrawn or resulted in acquittal).

2. Where a curfewee was convicted of, or cautioned for more than one offence, or prosecution is pending in respect of more than one offence, the table shows the most serious offence.


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Table 2
Cases where new offences are similar in character to index offence

No.
Total136
Homicide and attempted homicide including0
Manslaughter
Attempted murder
Conspire, aid, incite murder
Wounding and assault including8
Wounding (inflicting GBH)
Assault occasioning ABH
Assault with intent to cause GBH
Assault with intent to resist arrest
Other assault
Obstruct/resist constable
Assault on police officer
Other violence against the person including0
Cause explosion, place explosive
Possess firearms with intent
Possess offensive weapon
Other violence against the person
Sexual offences including0
Rape
Buggery
Indecent assault
Unlawful sexual intercourse
Drugs offences including17
Production
Supply
Possession with intent
Possession
Unlawful import/export
Other drugs offences
Driving offences11
Death by reckless driving
In charge or driving under the influence of drink or drugs
Reckless driving
Other motoring offences
Taking and driving away
Theft and Burglary including89
Burglary
Robbery
Other theft
Handling stolen goods
Fraud
Forgery
Disorderly and Threatening Behaviour including6
Making threats to kill
Criminal damage
Affray
Violent disorder
Threat/disorderly behaviour
Drunkenness
Kidnap/Abduction including1
Kidnapping
Abduction
False Imprisonment
Other Offences including
Arson1
Bigamy0
Blackmail0
Perjury/libel/pervert the course of justice0
Breach of Court Order3
Cruelty to children0

Notes:

1. The table compares the most serious index offence with all the offences involved in the fresh convictions, cautions and pending prosecutions.

2. Similar offences are defined for this purpose as offences within the groups of offences shown. All "stand alone" offences are not counted as similar in character to any other offence or group of offences.


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