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MoJ claims crime fighting success from alcohol and GPS tags


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Ankle tag on foot
Image source: GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has claimed evidence of success in the use of alcohol and GPS tags to control criminal behaviour.

Almost two years after it announced plans to use sobriety tags, it said offenders banned from drinking alcohol by the courts have stayed sober on 97% of the days they were tagged.

The tags take a sample of the offender’s sweat every 30 minutes and alert the local probation service if alcohol is detected.

The number of offenders wearing them has double from 773 to 1,859 over the past year.

In addition, police forces have used data from GPS tags on offenders to solve a series of neighbourhood crimes, including an armed robbery in Derbyshire, a car theft in Cheshire and a house burglary in Kent. MoJ says that in all of these cases the technology helped police catch and convict the offenders.

More than 1,700 burglars, robbers and thieves were made to wear a tag and have their movements tracked in 2002, bringing the total to over 2,500 since the scheme was expanded in 2021.

Crackdown on crime

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Thousands of offenders are being tagged each year to crackdown on crime thanks to our investment in cutting edge technology.

“We’ve more than doubled the number of offenders wearing alcohol tags and have been GPS tagging thousands more burglars and robbers – to reduce reoffending and keep our communities safer.”

GPS monitoring equipment is deployed across 19 police force areas – roughly half of England and Wales - so that criminals who have served a prison sentence of 90 days or more are tagged on release. Their whereabouts are monitored by GPS satellites for up to 12 months.

It is part of a trial to evaluate how tags can help deter and detect crime with over 10,000 criminals expected to be tagged by 2025.

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