Domestic abusers to be barred from early prison release under crackdown by minister
Domestic abusers, stalkers and harassers are to be barred from early prison release under a crackdown by ministers that puts them on a par with killers, convicted terrorists and sex offenders.
Damian Hinds, the prisons minister, has laid new regulations that remove their rights to be freed early on electronic tags under home detention curfews.
At present, they can be freed to return home up to 4.5 months before their normal release date but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has changed the rules to end their eligibility.
They will now be put on a par with killers, sex offenders and convicted terrorists under the presumption that they should not be released early on home detention orders.
The move follows a surge in the number of domestic abuse crimes reported to police to nearly 846,000 in the year ending March 2021, a rise of six per cent on 2020.
Mr Hinds said: “From sentencing to parole, this Government is delivering tough justice for dangerous offenders and domestic abusers.
“Today we are announcing that those guilty of crimes bearing the classic hallmarks of abuse - such as stalking and harassment - will no longer be considered for release on Home Detention Curfew.
“Taken together with stronger risk assessments, these changes should give victims and the public confidence that we are prioritising their safety.”
The toughening of the rules for domestic abusers, stalkers and harassers will be balanced by an easing for the regulations for those jailed for less serious offences.
The MoJ is bringing forward their release date on home detention curfews from 4.5 to six months before they would normally be freed. It means the net effect on the growing prison population is likely to maintain the status quo as one cancels out the other.
Under the rules, those jailed for less than four years are eligible for automatic release half way through their sentences. However, they can be freed on home detention curfews enforced by tags up to 4.5 months - and now six months - before their automatic release date after risk assessments by prison and probation officials.
Anyone serving four years or more is barred by law from home detention curfews as well as registered sex offenders, terrorists, those convicted of violent offences and foreign criminals awaiting deportation.
A further group of offenders are presumed ineligible which means they are only allowed out on tags for exceptional reasons.
These include anyone serving a sentence for: homicide, explosives, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of firearms with intent, cruelty to children, racially aggravated offences, sex offenders not on the register and offenders previously convicted of terrorism.
The 13 new offences being added to the “presumption” list include stalking, harassment, breaches of stalking, harassment or restraining orders, coercive and controlling behaviour and breach of a domestic violence protection order.
Claire Waxman, London’s Victims’ Commissioner, welcomed the move after first raising concerns three years ago. "These victims, who are at high risk of repeat victimisation, are in desperate need of respite from harassment and abuse when their perpetrator is sent to prison," she said.
"I have met many victims whose anxiety was greatly heightened knowing their offender would only serve a quarter of their sentence, and even some who weren’t made aware of their early release and were put at risk by encountering their abuser in the street.
"This change is overdue but very much welcome and I hope it will provide much needed reassurance to domestic abuse and stalking victims.”