Under new rules, the criminals that have served a prison sentence of a year or more will be automatically fitted with a tag on release, allowing their whereabouts to be monitored by GPS satellites 24 hours a day for up to 12 months.
Police will be able to work with HM Prison and Probation Service staff to investigate whether those on the tags have been in the vicinity of recent burglaries, thefts and robberies. It could provide the crucial evidence needed to catch the perpetrators.
The intention is the tags will also act as a deterrent, protecting the public from further burglaries and forcing career criminals to choose a more honest way of making a living. It is hoped the scheme will reduce the estimated £4.8 billion burden such crimes place on the taxpayer every year.
The scheme will initially launch in six police force areas, including Humberside, Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, and West Midlands on 12 April and it is estimated 250 offenders will be tagged in the first six months. It will then be extended to a further 13 areas in September.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “Being burgled or robbed is devastating and I understand how frustrating it is when the perpetrators can’t be caught, both for the public and the police.
"Tagging these prolific offenders so we know where they are 24 hours a day should be powerful persuasion to change their ways and will help police find and charge them if they don’t. It’s another tool helping probation staff to cut crime and keep the public safe."
Police officers will be able to submit any burglaries, thefts or robberies they are investigating to a dedicated unit overseen by HM Prison and Probation Service. Trained staff will then be able to check the location history of those on tags against the details of the crime, allowing police to either rule out or investigate suspects further.
The joined up nature of this work builds on the recently updated Integrated Offender Management strategy, which sees police and the Probation Service working together to reduce neighbourhood crime.
National Police Chief’s Council Electronic Monitoring Lead, Deputy Chief Constable Jon Stratford said: "Tagging prolific offenders provides a strong deterrent and means officers will be able to quickly arrest and gather evidence against anyone suspected of being involved in a robbery, burglary or other theft.
"This scheme will play a part in our overall work to prevent crime and keep our communities safe.”