Voluntary tagging for criminals as police work to cut offending

Technology: GPS tracking may help criminals break their habit
Technology: GPS tracking may help criminals break their habit

Serial offenders in Sheffield will be given the opportunity to wear electronic ‘tags’ in future as part of the work done to try to wean them away from a life of crime.

The scheme will operate on a voluntary basis, but one prolific burglar has already signed up and more have volunteered to wear them when the project is launched fully in the new year.

It relies on GPS tracking technology for its success, allowing the movements of those wearing the tags to be accurately monitored, meaning they can be instantly identified as either being in the area or not when crimes are committed.

The move is radical because normally tagging is used as part of an offender’s sentencing, using monitors to impose a curfew on those released early from prison.

The technology is called ‘Buddi’ and initially there will be six available, with “a view to assisting with desistence from crime”, according to a report from South Yorkshire Police for the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings.

It explains: “The project has been developed in partnership with the Community Rehabilitation Company and will primarily be aimed at the high frequent offenders.

“South Yorkshire will join a number of areas who already use this system and the University of Sheffield have agreed to carry out an evaluation.”

It is possible the scheme could be expanded in future to include those who regularly go missing, making the task of finding them much easier.