London, Mar 17 (PTI) Burglars, thieves and robbers released from prison will be made to wear GPS tags to track their movements in a world-first scheme to crack down on neighbourhood criminals, the UK government announced on Wednesday.
Under the new rules, such offenders who have served a prison sentence of a year or more will be automatically fitted with a tag on release, allowing their whereabouts to be monitored by GPS satellites 24 hours a day for up to 12 months.
With more than half of those convicted of theft and burglary reoffending within a year and almost 80 per cent of cases resulting in no suspect being identified, the Ministry of Justice said the new scheme will be a vital extra source of intelligence to help police catch these persistent offenders.
“Being burgled or robbed is devastating and I understand how frustrating it is when the perpetrators can’t be caught, both for the public and the police,” said Kit Malthouse, UK Minister for Crime and Policing.
“Tagging these prolific offenders so we know where they are 24 hours a day should be powerful persuasion to change their ways and will help police find and charge them if they don’t. It’s another tool helping probation staff to cut crime and keep the public safe,” he said.
Police will be able to work with the Prison and Probation Service staff to investigate whether those on the tags have been in the vicinity of recent burglaries, thefts and robberies.
It is hoped that this would provide the crucial evidence needed to catch the perpetrators.
The intention is the tags will also act as a deterrent, protecting people from further burglaries and thefts and forcing 'career criminals' to choose a more honest way of making a living.
The Ministry of Justice said it is hoped this novel approach will reduce the estimated 4.8 billion pounds burden such crimes place on the taxpayer every year.
“Tagging prolific offenders provides a strong deterrent and means officers will be able to quickly arrest and gather evidence against anyone suspected of being involved in a robbery, burglary or other theft,” Deputy Chief Constable Jon Stratford, National Police Chief’s Council Electronic Monitoring Lead.
“This scheme will play a part in our overall work to prevent crime and keep our communities safe,” he said.
The scheme will initially launch in six England police force areas of Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Humberside and West Midlands on April 12 and it is estimated 250 offenders will be tagged in the first six months. It will then be extended to a further 13 areas in September.
Police officers will be able to submit any burglaries, thefts or robberies they are investigating to a dedicated unit overseen by the Prison and Probation Service.
Trained staff will then be able to check the location history of those on tags against the details of the crime, allowing police to either rule out or investigate suspects further. PTI AK RUP