Feeds

Offender tagging beaten by skyscrapers

Serious flaws uncovered in satellite tracking system

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The government may have to postpone the roll out of satellite tracking of offenders after a study uncovered serious technology flaws.

A study commissioned by the Ministry of Justice reveals that the signal could be lost and people could remove their ankle tags and leave them behind.

The report (pdf) says that in ideal conditions the technology was capable of finding the exact location of a tracked offender. But the signal could be distorted if an offender entered a building or a street with tall structures.

Offenders determined to commit crime could remove their tags or leave their tracking units behind, even though this behaviour would be detected, the report reveals.

Satellite tracking trials were announced in July 2004 under plans to clamp down on crime. David Blunkett, the then home secretary, said tracking would act as a "prison without bars".

Greater Manchester, Hampshire, and the West Midlands were chosen to test the new technology in a two year trial, which ended in June last year. The hope was that it would help to deter offenders from breaking the law, as well as providing law enforcement agencies with extra intelligence about offender movement.

Equipment consisted of an ankle tag and a portable tracking unit, which offenders had to keep with them at all times. The tracking unit received GPS signals and monitored the offender's location.

The target groups chosen for satellite tracking were offenders serving time for sexual, violent, and domestic crimes, as well as prolific offenders.

Professor Stephen Shute, author of the report, found that 58 per cent of the tracked offenders were either recalled to prison, or had their community sentence revoked. Most of these were the prolific offenders who had been ordered to live in a hostel.

The satellite tracking trials cost £42 a day for each person. An offender would most usually be tracked for 72 days, at a total cost of some £3,000. But Professor Shute said the costs charged by the monitoring companies during the pilots are unlikely to reflect the costs associated with a national roll out.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice told GC News: "We are currently considering the evaluation report, and the recommendations of a National Offender Management Service Working Group, on the future use of the satellite tracking of offenders in England and Wales.

"Satellite tracking was not used as a replacement to existing methods of supervision or licence conditions, but as an additional risk management tool to enhance public protection.

"It has been used to monitor offenders in other countries and the study was primarily evaluating whether satellite tracking could be implemented."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
True fact: 1 in 4 Brits are now TERRORISTS
YouGov poll reveals terrible truth about the enemy within
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
NBN Co claims 96 mbps download speeds for FTTN trial
Umina trial also delivers 30 mbps uploads, but exact rig used not revealed
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?