Hundreds of domestic abuse perpetrators are to be given electronic tags upon release from prison in a move to better protect victims and survivors.
The Ministry of Justice said under its new scheme, which will launch in the East and West Midlands, any offender who poses a threat to a former partner or their children can now be forced to wear a tag.
Offenders who are tagged can be banned from going within a certain distance of a victim’s home, with the tags monitoring their whereabouts or making them abide by a strict curfew. Offenders who breach these rules face being returned to prison.
Up to 500 prison leavers will be made to wear a GPS or curfew tag as part of the initial pilot.
The government has also announced that over 2,700 victims have been protected from further harassment from their imprisoned abusers following a Prison Service scheme launched last summer.
The Unwanted Prisoner Contact Service ensures offenders are unable to dial a victim’s number from prison phones or send out threatening letters to their address.
Indeed, more than 3,000 reports have been made to the Unwanted Prisoner Contact Service since its relaunch in June 2022 – representing a 4,779% increase compared to the old offline scheme. 93% of reports were made by females.
“Survivors of domestic abuse show great strength and bravery in coming forward, and it is right that every tool is used to protect them from further harm,” said Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk:
“The tagging of prison leavers at risk of committing further domestic abuse is a further protection we are introducing to help victims rebuild their lives and feel safe in their communities.”
Welcoming the announcement, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales Nicole Jacobs said:
“For too long, the onus has been on victims of domestic abuse to protect themselves from harm. I will continue to work with government to ensure a whole suite of measures is in place to protect victims and prevent domestic abuse, including improving probation practice and the use of evidence-based perpetrator interventions.”
Women’s Aid Chief Executive Farah Nazeer described the new tagging protocol as a “welcome step”, though added a caveat:
“For this scheme to be successful, it is vital that the needs and safety of survivors are centred. Parole and police officers must also undergo thorough training delivered by specialist organisations, in order to fully understand the complexities of domestic abuse and the danger that perpetrators can pose to survivors, even after they leave prison.”