2001-2008
Home
Main
- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > Politics

Electronic Tagging: Justice on the Cheap

15 October 2006

Oops. It turns out that the policy of tagging crims has not been wholly successful, with more than 1,000 violent crimes, including five murders, being committed by prisoners released early with electronic tags. Of course, there's no cut-and-dried way of predicting what people are going to do, but it's a track record that doesn't really inspire confidence.

Tagging is an interesting concept. In theory it's an excellent way of making people observe a curfew, a useful tool in what can loosely be described as 'shit crimes' - not grand larceny but dickhead kids getting wasted and joyriding or setting fire to wheelie bins while firmly believing themselves to be Scarface. It's also a good way of making the punishment fit the crime - UK law generally avoids punitive sentences, instead keeping an eye on rehabilitation, and tagging avoids people who aren't a menace to society going to prison, which, by all accounts, isn't terribly nice. (For a make-up-your-own-mind success story,go here.)

However, the reality is a bit different. Whatever the ideals behind tagging, it's a cheapo way of not putting people in prison, and you have to wonder at what stage rehabilitation becomes financial expediency, as demonstrated by the recent 'prisons crisis'. And the failings of tagging can't just be rationalised away as 'system failure'. It's easy to be objective and say 'It's a system that isn't working properly and needs a review', and another to get stabbed by someone who should really be in prison.

And quite apart from the obvious failings of tagging on a macro scale (5,000 violent crimes, for fuck's sake) the nuts-and-bolts working of tagging looks definitely flawed. A friend of this contributor was (justifiably) tagged, and while talking to the two women who had to apply the tag, he discovered they were
frequently terrified about tagging people because, curiously enough, people don't like being tagged and become violent. It's a micro-anecdote, but it does reinforce the idea that tagging is a stop-gap solution. You'd assume that tags would be applied with at least some police supervision, to avoid the risk of technicians being attacked, but you'd be wrong. It smacks of corner cutting, simply because so many taggees are being tagged precisely because they have a history of violent and erratic behaviour.

The awful thing about the failings of tagging is that no one seems to be accountable for it. The backdrop to the failings of tagging is a real crisis in the UK's prison system, but there doesn't seem to be any real plan to deal with it. When 500 or so police cells were freed up this week for prison overspill, the reaction from the government seemed to be that it was a triumph when the places weren't needed.

It's not surprising that government has to crisis-manage at times, but it's disturbing that short-term, low-cost measures like tagging are constantly employed. We'd be tempted to say that nothing will be done about the failures of tagging until something *really* terrible happens, but you can't get much more terrible than being murdered.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free


 ABOUT THE FRIDAY THING
Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

READERS WRITE
"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved