Pilot begins to track managed offenders

Thames Valley Police and Thames Valley Probation have begun a pilot that will see some prolific offenders fitted with GPS (global positioning system) trackers on a voluntary basis.

Feb 5, 2014
By Paul Jacques

Thames Valley Police and Thames Valley Probation have begun a pilot that will see some prolific offenders fitted with GPS (global positioning system) trackers on a voluntary basis.

The scheme will be funded through a share of the £1.6 million Thames Valley Police was awarded from the Government’s ‘precursor’ fund of £20 million that was made available to police and crime commissioners (PCCs) ahead of the first full year of operation of its Police Innovation Fund that will be worth up to £50 million a year from 2014/15.

As part of the pilot, called Project Atlas, offenders being managed under the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) programme in the local policing areas (LPAs) taking part will be offered the opportunity to have an electronic tracker fitted which will use GPS/GSM (global system for mobile communications) technology to monitor their movements.

Fourteen trackers are currently available and have been fitted to seven offenders so far. There are 54 offenders currently in the community managed by the IOM across the pilot LPAs – Aylesbury, Wycombe, South and Vale and Reading.

The trackers are worn by offenders around their ankle and will have the capability to live-track, historically track and locate the tracker, and therefore the wearer, at any time. By targeting these offenders, police and probation will be able to keep an eye on their movements.

Although offenders must agree to have a tracker fitted, the force says it is of benefit for them to do so as, if they are suspected of committing a crime, the tracker can prove their whereabouts at any given time.

The force hopes it can help them desist from crime and support their engagement with agencies that are trying to rehabilitate and resettle them.

Inspector Lewis Prescott-Mayling, Thames Valley Police lead for IOM, said: “We are planning on running the pilot for 12 months and then will evaluate the effectiveness of the technology used and whether tracking reduces the risk of reoffending of those offenders taking part, before deciding whether it will be rolled out across Thames Valley.”

He added: “IOM is a useful tool to manage those offenders who cause a disproportionally large amount of crime in their community.

“By targeting these offenders, Project Atlas aims to reduce their offending and support their rehabilitation as well as reduce costs associated with monitoring offenders, for example the removal of the need for officers to physically check their location or quickly eliminate them from suspicion for an offence.

“IOM makes a real difference in reducing offending in our communities and I am sure Project Atlas will be another tool to tackle persistent offending.”

IOM is used by Thames Valley Police and Thames Valley Probation, along with their partners, to tackle persistent offenders who keep committing crime. The aim of IOM is to manage the small amount of offenders who cause a disproportionate amount of crime. This includes supporting the probation service and other agencies in securing housing, employment or help with drug and alcohol addiction, with a view to reduce their offending.

Gabriel Amahwe, Thames Valley Probation director and lead for IOM, said: “This is a good opportunity to make use of the latest tracking technology to support rehabilitation of offenders, provide constant surveillance of offenders and get information about their activities and whereabouts day and night.

“The use of this approach is part of our community safety strategy to reduce re-offending and make our community a safer place in which to live and work.”

As well as the GPS tracking devices, the £1.6 million awarded to Thames Valley Police will also be used to provide:

•Extra funding for equipping officers with mobile technology so they can access key operational systems while out on patrol and have the capability to capture electronic witness signatures. This will reduce the time they spend in the station and increase their visible presence;

•Funding for additional body-worn video cameras across the force to improve evid

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