GPS tracking pilot for knife offenders expands in London

By Dan Parton

| 03 June 2019

A pilot programme that tags knife offenders with GPS tracking devices has been extended with a £700,000 funding boost from the mayor of London.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has extended the knife offender tracking pilot, in a bid to cut reoffending. Image: YouTube

Positive signs from a limited version of the pilot in four London boroughs have prompted its expansion across the capital in a bid to cut reoffending, including among young offenders.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the innovative project will purchase up to 300 GPS trackers.

The one-year pilot was launched in February in Lewisham, Croydon, Southwark and Lambeth, where 12 offenders are wearing the tags.

Those who have served a custodial sentence for knife crimes, such as possession, robbery, aggravated burglary or assault, are fitted with the devices as part of licence conditions after release from custody.

A statement released by the mayor's office, said that the scheme helps probation officers have "open and transparent conversations about an offender's lifestyle and behaviour which contributes to more effective engagement and robust risk management".

The pilot, supported by London's Violence Reduction Unit, will involve location data being shared with the Met Police and probation services.

This will improve crime detection and help to enforce restrictions on the movements of offenders such as exclusion zones, as well as monitor their attendance for rehabilitation.

Those deemed at greatest risk of reoffending will be tagged and their movements checked against the location of reported crimes or areas they are not permitted to visit as part of their licence conditions.

This follows a successful two-year GPS monitoring programme for prolific and persistent offenders between 2017 and 2019, in which the tags were used as part of a community or suspended sentence order, allowing authorities to monitor whether the offender was complying with it.

Gabriel Amahwe, executive director of Probation, London Community Rehabilitation Company - which is supervising nearly half of the offenders in the pilot to date - said that results so far show the "significant potential" of the scheme to protect young victims and perpetrators.

Amahwe added: "GPS tagging is a very powerful tool to help my employees closely monitor targeted offenders on licence in the community.

"It also shows great promise in forcing our service users to think more carefully before they go out carrying a knife or get involved in knife crime themselves."

Khan said: "Enforcement alone will only suppress violence - and that's why I am investing in innovative programmes like GPS tagging that will not only help in crime reduction but crucially reduce the risk of reoffending."

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