Prisoners to be tracked by GPS in police pilot

TRIAL RUN Supt Paul Bartolemeo
TRIAL RUN Supt Paul Bartolemeo
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PRISONERS are being asked to volunteer for a 24-hour electronic tracking scheme in a Hampshire police pilot to help reduce reoffending.

Criminals sentenced to less than a year in jail will be asked to take part in

Project Start when they are released from Winchester Prison.

The scheme will enable police to monitor offenders 24 hours a day using a GPS device fitted to their ankle.

Criminals cannot ‘breach’ the tags, unlike those issued to monitor court-imposed curfew orders.

Chips in the tags use satellite technology to track the offenders and can send location signals every minute.

It means police can monitor participants’ movements, making it easier to spot if they are at or near the scene of a crime but also to help rule potential suspects out.

Superintendent Paul Bartolomeo said: ‘Those who are sentenced to under 12 months imprisonment are short-term detainees which means there is no statutory obligation by probation to provide additional services to them when they leave.

‘There is some evidence to suggest they are the ones who repeatedly offend, and therefore are the most cost to the system, albeit

their offending may be low-level.

‘We are trying to stop that revolving door of people coming in and out of the criminal justice system.’

Volunteers will each be tagged for a month in the £50,000 year-long project, which will be overseen by Cambridge University and is backed by the force and Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes.

Supt Bartolomeo said: ‘We can prove where somebody is as well as prove where they are not, which is important from a crime investigation point of view.

‘It helps with reducing the cycle of reoffending by reducing peer pressure.

‘Thirdly they can prove to their loved ones that they are serious about not re-entering that cycle.’

He added: ‘If they have committed a crime they are arrested, the tag is removed, they will go back through the criminal justice process and they are highly likely to go back to prison.’