United Kingdom

Plans to electronically tag burglars, robbers and thieves will see just 1,500 crooks monitored

Plans to electronically tag serious burglars, robbers and thieves will see just 1,500 crooks monitored – despite 1.5 million offences being recorded last year.

The flagship scheme announced last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson was heralded as a 'fresh commitment' to tackling crime.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that it will apply to only a tiny fraction of offenders. 

Government sources said the scheme would be a 'controlled study' across 19 of 43 police forces in England and Wales and apply to criminals sentenced to 12 months or longer.

Plans to electronically tag serious burglars, robbers and thieves will see just 1,500 crooks monitored. The scheme announced last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured)

John Apter, of the Police Federation, said: 'What is needed, more than knee-jerk plans or gimmicks, is long-term, centrally funded investment in policing and the wider criminal justice system, so that we can plan for the here and now and the future.' 

Last year, police recorded 1.52million offences of theft, robbery or burglary. But Ministry of Justice officials are expecting just 1,500 burglars, thieves and robbers to be added to the 14,000 other criminals who are already being monitored with the tags through an extended trial scheme first launched last year.

Doubts have also been cast about whether tagging criminals cuts crime.

A 2017 an academic review commissioned by the College of Policing found that electronic monitoring of offenders, including using GPS data, 'was not associated with a statistically significant reduction in re-offending rates (however measured)'.

But Ministry of Justice sources insisted that the new scheme will be a 'robust' controlled study of the effectiveness of the tags, with the other half the country acting as the 'control group'.

They said that the College of Policing report preceded the introduction of the GPS tags in England and Wales.

The Ministry of Justice said that there was 'strong evidence' that electronic tags act as a deterrent (stock image)

Sources claimed that the tags would have a deterrent effect, particularly as the tag wearers' locations will be mapped against crime data.

Of six forces currently carrying out trials with GPS taggings, only Humberside Police has said that the devices act as a deterrent.

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds accused the government of 'all talk and no action,' while Simon Foster, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner which has trialled the GPS tags, said: 'If the Government was serious about beating crime it would put together a proper plan talking about the real issues facing policing.'

Last week's crime pledge also included proposals to end restrictions on the use of stop-and-search, the extension of the use of sobriety tags and offenders carrying out unpaid work while on probation. 

The Ministry of Justice said there was 'strong evidence' that tags act as a deterrent. 

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'Tags are already used for a wide range of other crimes and nearly 14,000 offenders are currently wearing one.

'Tagging robbers, burglars and thieves is just the latest part of our efforts to ramp up their use and there is strong evidence they act as a deterrent.'

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