If you’re serving a custodial sentence, one of your main concerns will be when you’re eligible for release. If you’re serving a ‘determinate’ prison sentence you will likely be released after serving half of the term handed down by the sentencing Judge. Certain prisoners however are able to apply to be released at an even earlier point in their sentence. With this in mind, below are the most frequently asked questions about being released subject to a home detention curfew (‘HDC’), otherwise known as being released ‘on tag’.
1. Who is eligible to be released on tag?
Most prisoners serving custodial sentences of more than three months but less than four years will be eligible to be released on tag. However, the following are deemed by law to be ineligible:
- Violent and sex offenders serving extended sentences
- Prisoners serving sentences for failing to return to custody following a period of temporary release
- Prisoners subject to hospital orders
- Prisoners serving a sentence for failing to comply with a curfew
- Prisoners who have at any time been recalled from a HDC (unless said recall was successfully appealed)
- Prisoners liable to be removed from the UK
- Prisoners who, upon serving the requisite period of their sentence, have fewer than 14 days remaining until the half- way point of their sentence
- Prisoners who have not yet reached the age of 18
2. When will you be released on tag?
Your ‘eligibility date’ to be released on tag varies according to the length of your sentence. If you sentence is between 3 and 4 months then you must serve 30 days before being eligible for release. If you sentence is 4 and 12 months then you have to serve a quarter of your sentence. In the event that you sentence is over 12 months then you have to serve 90 days less than half the sentence. Time served on remand, if taken into account when calculating your conditional release date, is also taken into account when determining your tag date.
3. How do you apply?
Prior to your HDC eligibility date, you will be risk assessed by the prison. The process begins with you being asked to fill in a form (form HDC2) giving details of your proposed home address. A member of prison staff who knows you will then complete the second part of the form before the papers are reviewed by a Governor. Assuming that you pass the risk assessment, you will then undergo a ‘suitability assessment’. After the suitability assessment, you will either be recommended to the Governor for release on tag or referred for further consideration via an enhanced risk assessment. The Governor has the final say as to whether your release on tag will be granted.
4. What if you’re refused?
If your application for release on tag is refused your first avenue of appeal is by following the prison’s internal complaints procedures. In the event that the appeal is dismissed internally, you may have to consider an appeal to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman or an application for judicial review.