By Emily Smith, Reporter
11:44, 4 October 2021
The Ministry of Justice has announced that £183 million will be invested in putting electronic tags on 26,000 criminals over the next three years.
The GPS tags are designed to deter thieves from committing offences because the devices will allow the police to determine if an offender was involved in a particular crime.
In areas where the scheme operates, the police submit daily crime data on burglaries, thefts and robberies to a dedicated unit set up in HM Prison and Probation Service.
Trained staff then map records of offender movements against the details of the crimes and share the relevant data with the police, helping them to eliminate or investigate suspects and prosecute further offences.
The programme launched in Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Humberside and West Midlands on 12 April.
Around ten thousand of those fitted with the devices will be prolific robbers, thieves and burglars who will be equipped with GPS tags as they come out of prison.
The project recently saw the first conviction using location data to pin a thief to the scene of further crimes.
On 29th September, the scheme was expanded to Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, North Wales, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Greater London (City of London and Metropolitan Police areas).
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said that the intention is to roll the project out nationwide.
The MoJ also announced that alcohol monitoring tags will be used on more than 12,000 prison leavers known to commit crimes when under the influence.
It follows their successful use on offenders serving community sentences since last October to help cut the £22 billion cost of alcohol-related crime.
Over 3,500 high-risk domestic abusers will have their whereabouts monitored using GPS tags to protect victims and children from further trauma.
The tags may also help the Probation Service discover relationships that offenders are keeping secret so they can alert new partners.
The £183 million investment will help almost double the number of people tagged at any one time from around 13,500 this year to approximately 25,000 by 2025.
Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab MP said:
“This major increase in high-tech GPS tagging will see us leading the world in using technology to fight crime and keep victims safe.
“From tackling alcohol-fuelled violence and burglary to protecting domestic abuse victims, we are developing tags to make our streets and communities safer.”
GPS tags have been used nationwide since 2019 to monitor offenders’ compliance with licence conditions and court requirements, including exclusion zones.
Judges can order them as part of bail conditions, and the Home Office will increase its use of GPS tagging devices for foreign national offenders to monitor 4,500 at any one time by the end of next year.
Alcohol monitoring tags, which measure alcohol levels in sweat, have been ordered for over 1,500 offenders serving community sentences since they were first rolled out in October last year.
A spokesperson for the MoJ added: ‘The use of [general] GPS tagging in this way is being evaluated, and if it proves effective at reducing reoffending and helping police identify perpetrators, it could be rolled out nationwide’.
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