Inside Time Articles

Ryan Harman, PRT's advice and information service manager, writes a regular column for the prison newspaper Inside Time, you can read his articles here.

Home Detention Curfew
01/03/2018 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

Home Detention Curfew (HDC) is a scheme which allows some people to be released from custody early to a suitable address providing they stay there during certain hours—usually a 12 hour period through the night. This is monitored by an electronic tag which you would be required to wear—which is why it is often referred to as 'tagging'.

Rumours about HDC are commonplace in prison, and barely a week goes by without someone asking us if the eligibility criteria have been extended. Sadly, there is no truth to these rumours at present, and changes to eligibility like this would need a change in legislation first. 

However, HM Prisons and Probation Service are currently trying to improve the procedures for those who are eligible for HDC, and this drive is accompanied by new guidance for prisons, PSI 01/2018 Home Detention Curfew Assessment Process. The aims are to make sure that those eligible are identified early, that the process operates without delays and, most importantly, that release on HDC becomes the norm for people who are eligible.

Working out if you can get released on HDC can be complex - the following is intended to be a rough guide but please feel free to contact us or speak to staff for more detailed information. 
The first thing the prison must establish is your 'eligibility' for HDC. Eligibility is a matter of law, so if you are ineligible you will not be released on HDC under any circumstances. PSI 01/2018 does not make any changes to the eligibility criteria or the presumption of unsuitability. You are ineligible if any of the following apply:

  • you are serving 4 years or more for any offence;
  • you have been convicted of a sexual offence and are required to register;
  • you are currently serving an extended sentence for violent or sexual offences;
  • you are serving a sentence for failing to return on ROTL, absconding or escape;
  • you are serving a sentence for breach of the curfew requirement of a Community Order
  • you have ever been recalled to prison for failing to comply with HDC curfew conditions;
  • you have ever been returned to custody by the court for committing an imprisonable offence during an ‘at-risk period’ of a previous sentence;
  • you are currently serving a recall from early release on compassionate grounds; or
  • you are a foreign national who has been recommended for deportation by the court or you are liable to deportation and a decision to deport has been served.

If you are eligible for HDC there are still reasons you could be 'presumed unsuitable'. This is a matter of HMPPS policy rather than law. The reasons for being presumed unsuitable include if you have a history of sexual offending but are not required to register, if you are liable to deportation, if you have been recalled for poor behaviour during a previous period on HDC or if you are currently serving a sentence for any of the following categories of offence; homicide, explosives, possession of offensive weapons, possession of firearms with intent, cruelty to children, racially aggravated offences, or terrorism. If you are eligible but presumed unsuitable you will only be considered for release on HDC in exceptional circumstances.

The prison should work out your eligibility within five working days of sentence calculation and should inform you in writing. If you are eligible and suitable for HDC you should be considered automatically and should not need to apply. You should receive a Proposed Address Form at least 10 weeks before your HDC eligibility date, or sooner if you are serving a very short sentence. If this does not happen, speak to staff or put in an application to OMU or the HDC clerk at your prison.

At least five weeks before your eligibility date, and once an Address Checks form has been returned by your responsible officer in the community, your case should be assessed and a decision made. 

The decision maker should agree to release on HDC unless;

  • you are under investigation or have been charged or convicted of a serious further offence during your current sentence;
  • there are risk management planning actions which must happen before you are released (for example the address has been found unsuitable); or
  • there would be fewer than 10 days to serve on HDC before you would normally be released automatically.

It is also possible that a decision can be postponed for the above reasons. If you have been refused because the address was found unsuitable you should be given the opportunity to have an alternative address considered, providing there is time.

If your release on HDC is approved, you must serve at least 28 days or a quarter of your sentence in prison, whichever is the longest. However, the maximum period of HDC is 135 days. This means if your sentence length is between 18 months and 4 years you must serve until 135 days before the halfway point of the sentence.

For more detailed information on HDC, please contact us using the details below. We can send you a copy of PSI 01/2018 as well as other useful information about HDC.

You can contact the Prison Reform Trust's advice team at FREEPOST ND6125 London EC1B 1PN. Our free information line is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 3.30-5.30. The number is 0808 802 0060 and does not need to be put on your pin.