I thought I was going to get sent down. The fact that I was in crown court made it even worse because I was looking at more than two years. “Please stand up. I have read your presentence report and I am ready to sentence you…”
My heart was beating so fast.
“Right, young lady. I am sentencing you to a three-month curfew, during which you will be electronically monitored, and a two-year supervision order during which you will report to probation twice a week without fail. If you do not comply with this order you will be brought back before me and re-sentenced. Do you understand?” “Yes, ma’am. Thank you.”
My punishment was better than going to prison; as long as it wasn’t jail I didn’t mind what I got. The clerk asked me to remain in the court to sign some papers about the electronic tag. I waited but I couldn’t wait to run outside and scream with joy.
The day afterwards they put the tag on my ankle. Just imagine having most of your freedom taken away from you by a big grey bracelet round your ankle which sets you a curfew.
I have to be in my house at 7.00 pm and cannot leave until 7.00 am. To make sure I don’t leave in between there is a monitoring box in my room. The box can tell what time you come into your house and what time you leave.
Once you leave your house they can’t track you down – they can’t use the tag to find you when you’re on the streets. If you are more than 5 minutes late home,they phone you to ask why and note it down on your record.
If you are more than 15 minutes late three or more times you can be picked up at your home address by the police and get arrested for breaching your order.
They will take you back to court and you’ll be resentenced. The phone line also records all your calls so, if you use it, they catch everything you’re saying. The tag people are called Premier Monitoring Services.
They can come round to your house any time within your curfew hours. If you tamper with the equipment they know – it’s smarter than you think.
The next step up after the tag is custody, so if you are on one, don’t take any risks or believe anyone who says they can take it off or stop it from working.
People get electronically monitored to be punished and to prevent them from offending again, but it’s like being treated like a child. I feel isolated having to be in one place for so long. But I’m trying my hardest to keep out of trouble.
In the England and Wales 116,000 offenders are tagged annually. There’s one thing you can do to make sure you’re not one of them: behave.