Increased investment in programme to track knife crime offenders
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that a programme to tag knife crime offenders with a tracking device on release from prison is to be expanded across almost every London borough to cut reoffending.
A pilot has been trialled since February, which has seen offenders who have served a custodial sentence for knife crimes – such as possession of a knife, robbery, aggravated burglary and GBH – wear GPS tags after release from prison as part of strict new licence conditions.
The initial pilot has been operating in Lewisham, Croydon, Southwark and Lambeth, and today Sadiq has announced increased investment of more than £700,000 to expand the programme to 20 boroughs across the capital.
The increased investment will provide up to 300 GPS tags as part of the one-year pilot which is designed to reduce reoffending, improve rehabilitation and act as a deterrent from further offending. It will also allow for location data to be shared with the Met Police and Probation services to improve crime detection and help to enforce restrictions on the movements of offenders such as exclusion zones linked to a risk of re-offending, as well as monitor their attendance at locations linked to 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. Out of the offenders currently being tagged, there are currently 12 former knife crime offenders with GPS tags in London and following positive feedback from local criminal justice partners and those using the tags during the initial stage of the pilot, this will increase significantly over the coming months thanks to extra City Hall funding.
The scheme 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.
The pilot is supported by London’s new Violence Reduction Unit as the programme seeks to rehabilitate offenders and change behaviour to help move people away from the increased risk of violence.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am determined to lead from the front and do everything in my power to tackle violent crime in London. That means supporting the Met Police in their relentless focus on arresting violent offenders, and investing in projects and programmes that are tackling the root causes of crime.
“As the Met Police Commissioner has confirmed, we are beginning to see a slowdown in both knife crime and violence in London, but we are in no way complacent and we are both committed to seeing a large and sustained reduction of these devastating crimes in our city.
“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.”
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has a contract with Buddi to manage both the tagging contract and its data. Both the police and probation services can access data via crime mapping and monitor licence requirements through Buddi and in line with data protection legislation.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “I welcome the expansion of this pilot across the capital, which is yet another step forward in harnessing innovative technology to strengthen the supervision of offenders in the community.
“Earlier this year, we announced the roll out of location monitoring across the country to better protect victims, increase public protection and build confidence in community sentences. We have fully supported MOPAC in developing and expanding this pilot and we are committed to working together to tackle knife crime and its devastating consequences.”
A probation officer working on the pilot said: “GPS tagging is an invaluable tool which uses technology to encourage offenders to comply with their restrictions, deterring them from further offending and better protect victims. The scheme also helps us to have open and transparent conversations about an offender’s lifestyle and behaviour which contributes to more effective engagement and robust risk management.”
Sara Murray OBE, Chief Executive at Buddi, said: “Buddi is delighted to support the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in making the communities of London safer, and addressing Knife Crime related offending in the capital. Our market-leading technologies, used across the world and shaped to local need, enable the best chance of success.”
Gabriel Amahwe, Executive Director of Probation, London CRC said: “London CRC is very pleased to support the extension of the GPS tagging pilot scheme for knife crime offenders to another 16 London boroughs. Almost half of the offenders on licence tagged to date have been supervised by our employees and the results from these cases are showing the significant potential of this scheme to reduce the incidence of knife crime offences amongst our service users.
“Knife crime is a serious problem for young people in London with outcomes that can result in life changing injuries and even death for victims, as well as lifelong consequences for the perpetrators of these offences. 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.”
Notes to editors
The boroughs taking part are:
- Tower Hamlets
- Waltham Forest
- Barking & Dagenham
- Hammersmith & Fulham
The GPS tagging pilot was launched on 18th February 2019. To be eligible for the trial, an offender must be aged over 18, serving a sentence for a knife offence, 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.
GPS monitoring has been successfully piloted by MOPAC as part of community sentences with persistent offenders since March 2017. This community sentence pilot was extended to knife crime offenders from October 2018. Evaluation reports from this pilot can be found on the MOPAC website.