More than 800 tagged in one year

An electronic tag is used to monitor an offender
An electronic tag is used to monitor an offender

HUNDREDS of criminals and suspects are being electronically tagged every year in Northamptonshire.

And the number has risen dramatically over the past decade, with almost 500 more being monitored last year compared with in 2002-03.

In the 2011-12 financial year, 827 people were tagged following orders by judges at the county’s courts.

The number was down by almost 100 compared with the previous year but still represents a huge jump from the 2002-03 figure of just 358.

Frank and Sylvia Bewley, of Washington Square, Kettering, are part of the management support team for the town’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Last year they were recognised by chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, Adrian Lee, for their hard work over the past decade.

Mr Bewley said: “I am surprised by the figures

“It’s a huge increase since 2002-03.

“I have never come across anyone with a tag and I’m not sure you would notice if someone had one.

“But I have seen an improvement over the past 10 years in crime in the area – electronic tagging must be a deterrent.”

Mrs Bewley added: “I think it depends on the individual – some people it will work on and some it will not.

“A younger offender might be given the fright of their life by being given a tag but it might not make a difference to an older criminal.”

In Northamptonshire, electronic tags are enforced by G4S Care and Justice Services, on behalf of the county’s probation service.

The offender wears a bracelet on their ankle, which transmits a signal to a box in their home.

This informs the probation service if they do not stick to their curfew.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Electronic monitoring is an effective tool in monitoring offenders.

“It provides the courts with a credible alternative to custody and can be used alone, or as an enhancement to other community interventions.

“As expected, growing confidence in the effectiveness of electronic monitoring has led to an overall increase in numbers since its launch in 1999.”