London mayor Sadiq Khan’s offenders’ GPS-tagging scheme is working as 1,000th tag issued
The tagging scheme which safeguards Londoners and protects communities has now been extended. London mayor Sadiq Khan. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON mayor Sadiq Khan on Thursday (21) announced an extension to his pioneering GPS tagging pilot programme which tags knife crime and domestic abuse offenders released from prison.
The GPS tagging crime scheme recently surpassed 1,000 tagged offenders and is working to quickly identify those who break their license conditions, protect victims and crucially put the onus on perpetrators to change their behaviour, rather than the victims.
Evidence from the ongoing evaluation of the pilot shows that the use of GPS tagging is reducing the risks offenders pose to their victims and working to help keep all Londoners safe.
The majority of all 1,095 knife crime and domestic abuse offenders who have been tagged are men and initial evidence from both pilots shows that GPS data is playing a significant role in detecting non-compliance and any increased risk to victims.
Latest figures show more than half (567) of the tagged offenders complied with their license conditions during the period of GPS monitoring.
More than 300 of the tagged offenders who breached their tagged license conditions were successfully recalled to prison for non-compliance or increase in risk – proving that the tagging scheme is also working effectively as an enforcement option.
The remaining cases are still live in the GPS tagging pilot.
The GPS tagging pilot, which started in February 2019, has now been extended through to March 2023 and applies to those who have served custodial sentences for knife crime offences, such as being in possession of a knife, robbery, aggravated burglary and GBH, as well as domestic abuse offenders.
The pilot sees tag wearers being fitted with a mandatory GPS tracking device, which is issued under strict license conditions.
Real-time GPS data provides the London Probation Service with accurate location and tracking data and heatmap technology is used to show an overview of a tagged person’s movements during the course of a day, week or month as well as their lifestyle habits, ensuring that the probation service can closely monitor tagged offenders across all 32 London boroughs.
The data detects non-compliance from tagged offenders – including increased risk by those who may have entered an exclusion zone set-up to protect a victim once offenders have been released from prison. Previously, this behaviour might have gone untraced but now enforcement action can be taken promptly and where necessary to protect victims and bring perpetrators to account.
Data collected from the pilot has also been used to assist in crime mapping – the process with which crime incident patterns are analysed by police – to automatically cross-reference the movements of tagged offenders with reported crimes in London. Initial results of crime mapping indicates that the use of GPS tagging is a deterrent to further offending. Further evidence is set to be released this year as part of a GPS Knife Crime Tagging Evaluation Report by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
The mayor’s funding and extension of the GPS tagging pilot is part of continued action taken by Sadiq to tackle knife crime and violence against women and girls through his refreshed VAWG strategy. The strategy is taking a public health approach to targeting the behaviour of those who perpetrate abuse and making sure they are the focus for change.
Khan said, “Tackling violence, protecting victims and keeping Londoners safe will always be my top priority and I’m really pleased that my GPS Knife Crime and Domestic Abuse Tagging Pilot is working quickly to identify those who break their license conditions, helping to keep the public safe and crucially putting the onus on behaviour change squarely at the perpetrators of violence, not their victims.
“Data collected so far shows that GPS tagging of knife crime and domestic abuse offenders works and that’s why I’m extending this successful tagging pilot to March 2023, as part of my commitment to being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.
“Change will not happen overnight, but I believe that by working together we can help to stop the men who wish to do women harm and drive forward a lasting change in our society’s culture so that women and girls can finally live their lives free from fear, harassment or abuse.”
Kilvinder Vigurs, London regional director for Probation Service, London, said, “The GPS tagging pilot has and continues to be integral to our work with a range of offenders, but with a specific focus on the prevention of Knife Crime and Domestic Abuse. We utilise and take advantage of all forms of technology to encourage offenders to comply with their prison licence conditions and focus on deterring them from committing further offences.”
Detective superintendent Matt Pilch, lead responsible officer for Domestic Abuse at the Metropolitan Police, said, “We are pleased to see an extension of this pilot which has allowed us to stop those who break their license conditions in their tracks. With this scheme we have been able to keep victims safe and prevent offenders from causing further harm.
“Domestic abuse and knife crime has a devastating impact and it is important we focus our efforts on addressing the perpetrators’ behaviour and take enforcement action where necessary. We know the majority of victims of domestic abuse are women and we are working hard to deliver a safe environment for women to go about their lives without the fear of becoming victims of violent crime. Tackling violence in all its forms is a top priority in the Met and we are committed to protecting those at risk wherever and however we can.”
Anonymised Domestic Abuse Case Study:
One person identified as Mr Smith was sentenced in October 2021 at Crown Court to 10 months imprisonment following the offence of breach of his restraining order.
He has been the perpetrator of incidents of domestic abuse against his ex-partner on numerous occasions, including serious physical violence, stalking and harassment. He has previously breached his Restraining Order on eight separate occasions by contacting the victim.
Mr Smith was released in February 2022, after which there were ongoing concerns in relation to his alcohol use whilst in the community, leading to formal warnings.
In March 2022, GPS alerts showed that Mr Smith had not returned to his approved address and he was not contactable by telephone. GPS data and alerts later showed that he had entered the exclusion zone of his license, linked to the victim. This led to enforcement action being taken, meaning he was recalled back to prison.
He remains in prison at this time on the basis of evidence of increased risk of serious harm.