What is a tag?
In the context of the criminal justice system in England, a ‘tag’ typically refers to an electronic monitoring device, also called an ‘ankle monitor’ or ‘electronic tag’. It is a device that is attached to an individual's ankle and is used for tracking their movements and location. The device is usually part of a bail condition (e.g. curfew condition or location ban) or a sentence imposed by the court.
Electronic monitoring through a tag allows authorities to ensure that an individual complies with specific restrictions, such as curfew conditions requiring them to be at a specified location between certain hours, or geographical limitations – preventing them from entering or leaving a specified zone. The tag communicates with a monitoring centre, which tracks the individual's movements in real-time. If the person wearing the tag goes beyond the permitted area or violates other conditions, an alert is triggered. This can result in police attendance for breach of bail.
Electronic monitoring with a tag can also be used as a condition attached to a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order. It is thought of as an alternative to custody because it is used to limit the liberty of the individual requiring them to remain at a particular location between a specified number of hours, often overnight.
What happens if I cut off my tag?
Cutting off an electronic monitoring tag, without proper authorisation or legitimate reason is generally considered a breach of bail but also the commission of a further criminal offence and can have serious legal consequences. If you cut off your tag:
Legal Consequences: Cutting off a tag could result in additional criminal charges, such as criminal damage and/or breach of bail. These additional charges can lead to a further conviction and sentence for which the individual can be fined, imprisoned or both, depending on the severity of the offence.
Warrant for Arrest: If you cut off you tag, the monitoring company will no longer be able to track you location and as such, it is likely that a warrant will be issued for your arrest. In those circumstances you are encouraged to hand yourself in to the police station or court otherwise police are likely to actively search for you to execute the warrant for your arrest.
Revocation of Bail: Cutting off a tag can lead to a court deciding to revoke your bail, which means you will be held in custody until your matter is resolved or bail is granted again in the future.
Negative Impact on Case: Cutting off a tag could negatively impact your credibility and defence in your legal proceedings. It may also result in the court perceiving you as a flight risk or someone who does not take the legal process seriously.
If the tag is causing a problem, it is highly advisable to speak to your solicitor and the tag company. It may be that an application to vary your bail conditions can be made. If there is an issue with the tag and you believe it may be faulty, then contact the tag company rather than taking matters into your own hands.
Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.