The UK’s National Audit Office has found that placing low risk offenders on electronically monitored curfew is considerably cheaper than holding them in custody for a similar period.
The report found that on average, it costs GBP1,300 to monitor an offender electronically for 90 days as compared to GBP6,500 for the same period in custody. It also noted that the use of electronic tagging had reduced pressure on the prison population, a welcome benefit as HM Prisons struggle to cope with the escalating criminal population.
Electronic monitoring is used to monitor those on bail, offenders serving their sentence in the community, or, on occasion, to maintain contact with asylum seekers while their applications are being considered. Over 225,000 people in England and Wales have been subject to electronic monitoring since the scheme began in 1999 and over 10,900 were being monitored at the end of September 2005.
The report did warn that the effectiveness of electronic monitoring was being undermined by delays in fitting tags and delays in responding to breaches.