The government has announced a scheme in which certain offenders will be tagged with GPS tracking devices following their release from prison. The tag will remain in place for 12 months and is intended to help police identify re-offenders.

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A “world-first scheme”

Some offenders in England will have to wear a GPS tag on release from prison in what the government is describing as a “world-first scheme”. It is proposed that tags will be fitted to those who have served at least a 12 month prison sentence for one of the following crimes:

  • Theft from a person
  • Theft from a vehicle
  • Theft of a motor vehicle
  • Robbery
  • Assault with intent to rob
  • Burglary or aggravated burglary

The tag will be worn for 12 months and will track a person’s movements for 24 hours a day. If a crime is committed following an individual’s release from prison, the police can check their whereabouts to see whether he/she is potentially linked to the offence.

It is hoped this will act as a deterrent and reduce re-offending. The authorities are especially keen to clamp down on burglary and theft, as it is said that more than half of offenders go on to re-offend within 12 months of release. However, it can be difficult to identify a suspect, meaning 80% of cases do not result in a conviction.

When will the scheme be rolled out?

A pilot scheme is set to be implemented on 12 April 2021 in police forces in Gwent, Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Humberside and West Midlands. The pilot scheme will be extended to a further 13 areas in September this year.

HM Prison and Probation Service will set up a dedicated unit to investigate robberies, burglaries and thefts. If one of these offences is committed, police can contact the specialist unit, asking them to check an individual’s location against the crime details. That way, a previous offender’s involvement can either be ruled out or confirmed.

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