Special court sittings have been called to review the convictions of 14 people found to have tampered with their electronic tags after it was revealed the fault may have been the equipment’s.
Security company G4S, said it had identified a faulty batch of the tags which are handed out by the courts to people to monitor their movements.
It is thought the fault resulted in some household products weakening the strap, making the tag fall off or to allow it to be easily removed.
Of those 14 to have their convictions reviewed one was given a prison sentence of a month while the rest were fined or given suspended sentences. The tags of another 66 people may also have triggered false alarms. The affected batch has been removed from circulation with new devices issued.
The Northern Ireland Department of Justice is reviewing the matter and has contacted all those involved.
“The priority for the department is to ensure that anyone subject to electronic monitoring during the period in question has not been disadvantaged in any way as a result of the issue,” a spokesman said.
“The department continues to stringently monitor the service delivery of all electronic monitoring in Northern Ireland and has received an assurance from G4S that all the potentially faulty clips have been removed from service.”
Around 300 people have a tags in Northern Ireland. They are issued for a variety of reasons such as for bail conditions, in place of custody or as part of licence conditions on early release. It is a criminal offence to tamper with a tag or damage it.
G4S said there was no risk to the public and the fault did not affect their monitoring functions.
“The new production process for this part of the equipment has been tested and independently verified by the UK Ministry of Justice’s approved test laboratory,” a statement said.
“We have worked closely with the Department of Justice and other relevant parties to determine which cases might have been affected and may need to be withdrawn from any further action.
“We are satisfied that the action taken has rectified the fault and we are confident that all of those affected cases have been identified.”