Domestic abuser assaulted girlfriend after being confined to her home by electronic tag

·3 min read
The man, who had been convicted of an assault, was committed to his girlfriend’s address, resulting in a domestic assault on her while he was tagged - Andrew Aitchison
The man, who had been convicted of an assault, was committed to his girlfriend’s address, resulting in a domestic assault on her while he was tagged - Andrew Aitchison

A woman was assaulted by a domestic abuser after he was confined to her home under a tagged curfew, an inspector has revealed - as he warned of a lack of checks.

Justin Russell, the chief inspector of probation, said it was “deeply concerning” and “unacceptable” that electronically tagged domestic abusers under restrictions were being allowed to live with potential victims.

He demanded an urgent review after evidence that criminals were either being released early from prisons on home curfews or being tagged in the community without proper checks on the risks they posed to victims.

His report into the use of electronic tagging cited cases including a 26-year-old with a history of domestic violence, who was allowed to propose curfew addresses with his mother and with his girlfriend as part of a community sentence - without being challenged.

The man, who had been convicted of an assault on a security guard, had previously been cautioned for a battery offence against his mother and an assault on another ex-partner. He was committed to his girlfriend’s address, resulting in a domestic assault on her while he was tagged.

'Major gap in assessment process'

A burglar, who had also been jailed for GBH against the same victim, was released to his father’s address on a tagged curfew - which was in the same street as the ex-partner he had punched to the head and body. He forcibly dragged her into a vehicle after she tried to escape.

“Appropriate safeguards were not in place at the point of release and opportunities to either refuse release to this address or ensure additional safety measures via exclusion zone and GPS location monitoring were missed,” said the report.

“We are particularly concerned about the process that is used to decide whether an individual should be released early from prison and put on a home detention curfew. Probation practitioners told us they felt decisions were almost always weighted towards release.

“There is a major gap in the assessment process – it does not include information about the suitability of the proposed address for the curfew. There is no policy to mandate domestic abuse and safeguarding checks at court or before the individual is released from custody, and we found these checks are not conducted routinely.

“The Probation Service must look at this issue urgently – it does not make sense to place people on curfew in homes where they could pose a risk to others.”

Delays in getting location data

Probation officers who had concerns about the whereabouts of a tagged criminal also faced delays of up to three days to get location data on that person's movements in the previous days or weeks. This was despite there being “high risk of serious harm”.

Mr Russell said that despite the failings, the inspectorate believed the tags had great potential and could be more widely used, if correctly applied, to help protect the public against violent and sexual offenders.

The Ministry of Justice said the home detention curfew policy was currently being reviewed to ensure appropriate safeguards were in place to protect victims and the public.

An MoJ spokesman said: "Our innovative use of tags is world-leading and we are spending an extra £183 million to double the number of people tagged by 2025.

“Now that the Probation Service is a single organisation it will be much easier to ensure frontline staff use tagging more often and more consistently to keep the public safe.”

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