Satellite tracking of offenders
Cutting edge satellite technology is to be brought to Scotland to track offenders for the first time following the signing of a new contract today, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has announced.
The Justice Secretary said the award of the contract marked a significant step forward in the tools available to Scotland’s law enforcement agencies to ensure offenders complied with the strict conditions placed on them upon release into the community.
Under the previous contract, only ‘radio frequency’ technology could be used to establish when an offender had broken the terms of their release into the community. However, a new contract has now been signed with the world’s leading provider of electronic monitoring technology, G4S, to bring the very latest satellite tracking systems to Scotland.
See full size image
The technology works by using Global Positioning Systems to continuously track offenders’ whereabouts in order to monitor compliance with restrictions handed down by the authorities. If an offender steps out of line and breaches the conditions of their community sentence or release on licence, an alarm will be triggered, meaning local agencies can respond with immediate effect.
By utilising satellite tracking technology and the GPS, police officers can now respond swiftly to locate and apprehend offenders when necessary.
The technology can also be used to establish ‘exclusion zones’ which will mean an alarm will be triggered whenever an offender comes into the vicinity of an area they are prohibited from entering.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
“Recorded crime is at its lowest level for 37 years in Scotland, fear of crime is down, the risk of being a victim of crime is down, and we have over 1,000 extra police officers out on the streets in our communities. We want that to continue and protecting the public is an absolute priority.
“The award of this contract allows us to utilise the very latest technology to keep our communities safe. Using satellite tracking rather than just radio frequency technology to ensure offenders comply with the strict terms of their release into the community is a significant step forward. It gives our law enforcement agencies greater tools in their armoury and as the world’s leading provider of this technology, G4S have a proven track record in this area.
“The vast majority of offenders abide by the terms of the restrictions placed on them upon release into the community. However, for the minority, we want to ensure we do everything we can to deter them from stepping out of line. Now that Scotland has the capability to track them by satellite I suspect many of them will think twice. If anyone does step out of line, they can now be swiftly located and apprehended. There will now be nowhere for them to hide.
“We will of course monitor the roll out of this technology closely. If successful, it provides the opportunity to be utilised in other ways too, such as the monitoring of higher risk offenders, or providing the capability of setting up exclusion zones on where offenders can go and what they can do. We’ll be keeping a close eye on its development going forward and will actively consider further roll out to other uses if the evaluation proves positive.”
The five-year contract, worth £13 million, begins in April 2013. G4S is the largest provider of electronic monitoring technology in the world, with contracts in 15 countries, including the USA, France, England and Wales and the Netherlands.
Examples of ways in which the advances in technology made available through this contract could be utilised in future include:
- Domestic violence – the technology provides the capability to alert the victims of domestic violence when their abuser may be nearby. The victim will be given a small device which will recognise the tag worn by the perpetrator, and will then alert the victim and where necessary the relevant authorities.
- Sex offenders – high risk individuals such as sex offenders who are released may have conditions attached to their licence, such as avoiding schools. The sophistication of the GPS system would mean an alarm would be activated were the offender to breach an exclusion zone, allowing the relevant authorities act swiftly.