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London launches GPS tag trial for offenders



Police to use data from tags in crime mapping and investigations

Magistrates in eight London boroughs are beginning a 12-month pilot of GPS tags being fitted to offenders as part of a community or suspended sentence.

The £150,000 project is part of the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s programme of finding new ways to deal with persistent offenders while reducing costs and cutting crime.

The tags gather data to monitor an offender’s compliance with their court order or bail conditions, alerting probation officers if these are breached. This could include entering an exclusion zone or failing to attend mandated appointments.

It will enable the police to use this information for crime mapping, providing information on an offender’s location at a specific date and time to identify whether they could have been at the scene of a crime.

The pilot will run in eight boroughs in the north and east of the city – Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – and is set to conclude in March of next year, although the GPS monitoring will continue until September 2018.

It will involve tagging between 75 and 100 prolific offenders, with young adults and women a priority.

Most harm

Khan said: “These tags will monitor the offenders that cause the most harm to communities and greatest expense to the justice system, while also helping to detect whether someone was present at the scene of a crime and supporting victims by alerting probation officers if conditions are breached.”

He highlighted the factor that adult reoffending costs London £2.25 billion per year, accounting for 69% of spending on criminal justice, and that reoffending rates are at 24%. The statement on the trial highlighted that it is part of an effort to reduce these figures.

The Home Office is also supporting two offender tagging pilots, which began last October and are covering parts of the Midlands and Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

The Scottish Government recently launched a consultation on the use of the technology.

 Image by Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick, CC BY-SA 3.0 through Wikimedia

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