UK "electonic tagging" youth as young as 10 for Curfews

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(Don't we do this to whales, poler bears and pigeons to track where they go? Who would have thought the kids would be next?)

By Ian Burrell, Home Affairs Correspondent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/This_Britain/2000-11/bugged211100.shtml

Children aged 10 can be tagged for curfews

21 November 2000

Courts throughout England and Wales will be able to order the electronic tagging of children as young as 10, the Home Secretary announced yesterday.

Jack Straw said the tags would help to keep young offenders "off the streets" by putting them under night-time curfews lasting up to 12 hours.

But probation officers immediately claimed that the tagging devices were being worn by children as "trophies" and had no effect on crime.

A Home Office report into two pilot schemes of tagging for children aged 10 to 15 the option is already available to the courts for 16-year-olds found that 39 per cent of the children breached their curfew ordersin Greater Manchester and20 per cent in Norfolk. But Mr Straw was encouraged by the overall compliance rate.

Announcing that he was extending the scheme throughout England and Wales, the Home Secretary said: "The orders will help to break patterns of offending by keeping young offenders off the streets and out of trouble at the times they are most likely to offend."

During the two-year pilot schemes, a total of 155 orders were issued, mostly to boys aged 14 and 15 who had committed crimes of theft, burglary or violence.

But the orders did little to encourage children to change their interests, the Home Office report found. "There were only two cases where we were told a curfew enabled a young offender to make a break from a crowd of peers who had led them into trouble," it said. Most of the offenders spent their extra time at home watching more television, listening to music or sleeping longer.

The report also found that courts did not use the curfew orders as an alternative to custodial sentences but imposed them in place of community-based punishments.

But rolling out the curfew orders across the country will save 30,000, according to Home Office figures.

Mr Straw's announcement was criticised by organisations working with young offenders. Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said: "Tagging has no effect on crime or criminality and there is no proven deterrent effect. The danger is that younger children won't understand it and that older ones will see it as a trophy."

Chris Stanley, of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, said: "There is a danger that if young people receive and accept the label of offenders they will strive to live up to it."

-- meg davis (meg9999@aol.com), November 21, 2000


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