Knife crime and other violent offenders in Croydon are to have GPS tagging devices fitted to them on release from prison, under a pilot scheme announced today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Offenders who have served a custodial sentence for knife-related crimes – such as knife possession, robbery, wounding, GBH and aggravated burglary – will be tagged with a tracking device as part of strict new licence conditions.
Croydon is one of four boroughs – the others being Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham – where the scheme will be trialled on up to 100 offenders, with the aim of reducing re-offending and improving crime detection.
The scheme, which is due to start next Monday, is being paid for by MOPAC, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, under a contract with a west London firm called Buddi, who, the Mayor’s office said today, will “both manage the tagging contract and its data”.
They said, “Both the police and probation services can access data via crime mapping and to monitor licence requirements through Buddi and in line with data protection legislation.”
In announcing the innovative pilot, Mayor Khan said this morning, “Violent crime in London is unacceptably high, and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and I are doing everything in our power to crack down on violence and knife crime.”
The introduction of GPS tagging technology for offenders has not always gone smoothly. A Ministry of Justice scheme, launched in 2011, has been described as “nothing short of disastrous”, after it went £60million over its original £130million budget, and was five years late in being implemented.
To be eligible for the London technology trial, an offender must be aged over 18, be released from a London prison into one of the pilot boroughs and released to accommodation where it will be possible to charge the GPS device using the equipment provided. GPS monitoring has been piloted by MOPAC as part of a community sentence with persistent offenders since March 2017, which was extended to knife crime offenders last October.
Such is the shortage of manpower within the Met Police, however, that it seems that the monitoring of this pilot is effectively being outsourced, with the police only involved if there is a match between a reported crime and a tagged offender being located to the area where the crime took place.
In the press release issued by the Mayor’s office today, they said, “Offenders who are deemed more likely to re-offend will have their movements automatically checked against the location of reported crimes, with significant matches shared with local police.”
Tory-led governments have enforced cuts of £850million to the Metropolitan Police since 2010. This has happened while at the same time, local authorities have had their youth service budgets cut by almost 50 per cent, resulting in the closure of 81 youth centres and the loss of at least 800 full-time youth workers in the capital.
“The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems – such as poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people – that enforcement alone won’t solve and have been made much worse by huge government cuts to the police and preventative services,” Mayor Khan said.
“In London, we are leading the way on pioneering enforcement work to tackle violent crime. The Met Police have confirmed that we are starting to see the results of that work, with a reduction in the number of knife injuries in under-25-year-olds during 2018.
“This innovative pilot will build on the good work of the City Hall funded Violent Crime Taskforce by helping offenders integrate back into society and reducing the risk of re-offending, as well as giving the police the information they need to thoroughly investigate reported crimes.”
Probation officers who have had clients using GPS tags say that the technology works as a constant reminder that deters re-offending. “It makes them think twice about their actions,” said a probation officer.
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