Justice Secretary David Gauke has announced the national roll out of new GPS tags for the location monitoring of offenders.
The move is aimed at strengthening supervision, enforcing exclusion zones and providing assurance to victims of crime such as domestic abuse and stalking.
The tags provide an alert to a specialist monitoring team if the offender enters an area from which they have been excluded, and identifies their location.
They can be used to enforce exclusion zones for offenders, ensuring they keep a given distance from a point or address; to monitor their attendance at a certain activity such as a rehabilitation programme; and to give probation officers an indication of their movements and lifestyle.
The move is aimed at strengthening community orders, suspended sentences and home detention curfews, and comes in addition to the existing curfew tagging to monitors offenders on licence, community sentences and those on court bail. Around 60,000 individuals are subject to these tags each year.
Gauke (pictured) said: “GPS tagging will help to better protect victims and give them the reassurance that perpetrators will not be able to breach an exclusion zone without triggering an immediate alert.
“I am confident that this important new technology will become a vital tool to increase public protection and strengthen options for tougher community sentences.”
The National Police Chiefs Council and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) are working on a joint implementation programme. The GPS tags have so far been put to use in three regions - the North-West, Midlands and North-East – and are due to go live across England and Wales by the summer.
The London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime is also set to run a pilot using the technology to monitor offenders convicted of knife crime offences. They will have their movements checked against locations of reported crimes.
Along with the announcement, the MoJ has published the results of a pilot and evaluation involving eight police forces in the use of the GPS tags. The document reports that partner agencies were enthusiastic about the potential of the technology to help manage compliance with bail sentence and licence conditions.
It also points to the need for training and guidance for staff, and the need for clear communication between and within partner agencies to ensure the approach is applied consistently.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0