Satellite tracking pilot ‘premature’

The government’s piloting of a satellite tracking system to track
persistent offenders, including sex offenders and perpetrators of
domestic violence, has been criticised by the National Association
of Probation Officers as “premature”.

The association’s assistant general secretary, Harry Fletcher, said
no research had been carried out on the impact of current
electronic monitoring on crime reduction.

He warned the system had to be implemented with a wider package of
controls, including curfews, conditions and officer supervision,
because of many potential flaws in the system. Defects include an
inability to tell what the offender is doing and the inability of
trackers to work in tunnels, around high buildings and in
high-density areas.

Fletcher’s views were backed by rehabilitation agency Nacro’s chief
executive Paul Cavadino.

He said: “To prevent long-term reoffending, [the tagging system]
must be combined with rehabilitative measures, such as treatment
programmes for paedophiles and drug rehabilitation for prolific

Home secretary David Blunkett insisted at the launch of the scheme,
dubbed the “prison without bars”, that it would be “beneficial in
preventing and solving crime and protecting the public”.

Initial pilots will track 120 offenders – 40 each in Hampshire,
West Midlands and Greater Manchester – and cost about £68 a
day for each offender.

Only Manchester will monitor the movements of paedophiles.

If successful, the system will be used to monitor 5,000 prolific
offenders, help keep juvenile offenders out of prison, and as part
of open prison arrangements.

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