Mayor announces knife crime offenders will be ‘tagged’
· GPS tracking devices to be fitted to up to 100 in drive to reduce reoffending
· Pilot scheme for offenders released from prison after committing knife-related crime
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced knife crime offenders will be subject to GPS tagging upon release from prison in an innovative pilot scheme to reduce reoffending.
Starting next Monday (18 February), offenders who have served a custodial sentence for knife-related crimes – such as knife possession, robbery, wounding, GBH and aggravated burglary – will be tagged with a tracking device as part of strict new licence conditions.
The one-year pilot will operate in four London boroughs among those most affected by knife crime - Lewisham, Lambeth, Croydon and Southwark - and will use GPS tracking on up to 100 offenders to:
- Reduce the likelihood of reoffending;
- Help with rehabilitation of offenders.;
- Improve crime detection rates through data-sharing.
Under the scheme, offenders who are deemed more likely to reoffend will have their movements automatically checked against the location of reported crimes, with significant matches shared with local police.
Sadiq announced the pilot ahead of today’s Home Office Serious Violence Taskforce meeting, where he provided an update on London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and its progress on developing a homicide and serious violence case review that will provide an evidence base for the unit’s long-term public health approach.
The VRU will work to divert young people away from violence by making interventions at an early age, while the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund is investing £45m in projects and programmes that are giving more than 60,000 young Londoners better life opportunities.
This approach works in parallel with enforcement. Sadiq continues to support the Met Police and its City Hall-funded Violent Crime Taskforce through raising the council tax precept for a second consecutive year to invest a further £85m in the force.
These interventions are against the backdrop of government’s repeated cuts to vital youth services since 2010 and enforced cuts of £850m on the Metropolitan Police. Local authorities have had their youth service budgets cut by almost 50 per cent, resulting in the closure of 81 youth centres and the loss of at least 800 full-time youth workers in the capital*.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Violent crime in London is unacceptably high, and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and I are doing everything in our power to crack down on violence and knife crime. The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems – such as poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people – that enforcement alone won’t solve and have been made much worse by huge Government cuts to the police and preventative services.
“In London, we are leading the way on pioneering enforcement work to tackle violent crime. The Met Police have confirmed that we are starting to see the results of that work, with a reduction in the number of knife injuries in under 25-year-olds during 2018. This innovative pilot will build on the good work of the City Hall funded Violent Crime Taskforce by helping offenders integrate back into society and reducing the risk of reoffending, as well as giving the police the information they need to thoroughly investigate reported crimes.”
Carina Heckroodt, Head of London Extremism, Gangs and Organised Crime Unit in the National Probation Service (London Division) said: “This new pilot is a significant step forward in harnessing new technology to strengthen the supervision of offenders, particularly those who are at risk of being drawn in to a gang environment and other criminal networks. These tags will provide a constant physical reminder of an offender’s licence conditions, encouraging them to comply with their restrictions and deterring them from further offending and protect victims.”
Alice Burrows, a Probation Officer from London Community Rehabilitation Company, who has worked extensively with GPS as part of MOPAC’s current pilot said: “I have found GPS tagging hugely beneficial, not only for the police and probation services, but more importantly it does act as a deterrent to offending. One of my service users regularly comments on the fact that having the tag on has deterred him from offending because it makes him think twice about his actions. It is also a good use of technology that can help the police quickly rule a person out of inquiries because of access to location data.”
Notes to editors
* London’s Lost Youth Services report (Sian Berry, 2018):https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/assembly-members/publications-sian-berry/publication-sian-berry-londons-lost-youth-services-2018
The GPS tagging pilot will be launched on 18th February 2019. To be eligible for the trial, an offender must be aged over 18, being released from a London prison into one of the pilot boroughs and being released to accommodation where it will be possible to charge the GPS device using the equipment provided.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has a contract with Buddi to both manage the tagging contract and its data. Both the police and probation services can access data via crime mapping and to monitor licence requirements through Buddi and in line with data protection legislation.
GPS monitoring has been successfully piloted by MOPAC as part of a community sentence with persistent offenders since March 2017. This community sentence pilot was extended to knife crime offenders from October 2018.
The MOPAC-funded pilot will run for one year.
ONS figures show that violent crimes in the 12 months to September 2018 increased by 6.1 per cent in London compared to 21.8 per cent across the country, while violence with injury rose by 1 per cent in London compared to 9.2 per cent in the rest of England and Wales. Knife crime in London saw a rise of 7.8 per cent over the same period, a decrease on the previous quarter, while it increased by 9 per cent in the rest of the country.