Police Federation

GPS tags "must not become cost cutting exercise”

18 February 2019

“The use of better technology is long overdue but must not become a cost saving initiative”, argues PFEW National Chair.

This comes following the Justice Secretary's announcement on Saturday 16 February to tag thousands of criminals with GPS trackers in England and Wales.

The tracking scheme will allow authorities to trace criminals 24 hours a day and can be used to create a no-go zone, check an offender is attending a rehabilitation programme, monitor an offender’s behaviour or ban someone from going within a certain distance of an address.

The Justice Secretary David Gauke says the tags will “better protect victims of domestic abuse or stalking and could also help keep people out of gangs”.  

They are also thought to provide a tougher option for community sentences which can be used alongside requirements like alcohol or drug treatment programmes.

National Chair John Apter, said: “The improved use of GPS tracking is long overdue. Many other parts of the public and private sector have been using this for many years, so it has come far too late, but I am glad that the justice system is now embracing a better use of technology, so on that side of things, I welcome it.

“What we can’t have is for this really good tech to be used as a cost cutting exercise preventing people who should be in prison from being sent to prison.

“It’s a great additional tool to track offenders and get the evidence we need to lock them away but it shouldn’t be an alternative to those who deserve to be in prison.”

The Ministry of Justice says the GPS tags, which cost £9 a day, will be rolled out everywhere in England and Wales from this summer.

The government has used electronic tagging services as part of the sentencing and supervision of offenders since 1999. It said the new GPS tags will not replace the current system but be an extra option.

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