The former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has come out in favour of Bedfordshire PCC Olly Martins’ call for compulsory GPS tagging following a meeting with the Commissioner in Luton yesterday.
Mr Blunkett, the Labour MP Sheffield and Brightside, was giving a talk on education at the University of Bedfordshire yesterday.
He said that the success of GPS tagging speaks for itself and that it was ‘very disappointing’ that the Government’s was ‘dragging its heels’ over introducing a compulsory pilot scheme.
In recent weeks the PCC has been making calls for known prolific criminals who are at liberty on licence or bail fitted with a location detecting GPS tag, which in trials has proven a remarkable deterrent to re-offending.
Mr Blunkett said: “This is a proven and highly effective way to tackle crime. It would clearly prevent hundreds of people from becoming victims of crime in Bedfordshire alone, help criminals out of the re-offending cycle and free-up scarce police resources. If there is a down-side it’s well hidden.
“It’s very disappointing that despite incontrovertible evidence that GPS tagging works, the Government is still dragging its heels, and I fully support Olly Martins as he continues to push for the Government to give the right answer.”
Mr Martins said: “I’m very grateful to get such enthusiastic support for my proposals from someone of David Blunkett’s status, known for his robust approach to crime reduction when he was Home Secretary.
“This Government created Police and Crime Commissioners with the remit to come up with local crime prevention initiatives in the interests of local people. I’ve got one, it’s proven positive, but the Government won’t let me do it.”
A voluntary GPS tagging pilot scheme carried out in Bedfordshire proved to be a success. Offenders connected with 459 crimes (costing the taxpayer £1.4m) before they were tagged have been linked to just 3 offences (costing £6,100) after being tagged.
Mr Martins added: “We are here to protect law abiding people from crime and we should use every tool at our disposal to do this.
“We could, and to my mind should, have been able to do this six months ago. If my house had been burgled recently I think I would be asking the Government some very tough questions, like why they hadn’t allowed this scheme to be implemented in Bedfordshire to prevent it happening.
“It’s not as if it would be difficult, the scheme already has the support of all the main partners - the police, probation and courts. GPS tagging would significantly reduce the prospect of people carrying out crime, thereby reducing the number of victims of crime.
“I will continue to lobby the Government to give me a green light. I want to see a pilot scheme up and running at least, which will prove that this technology protects people from crime. I think the people who elected me deserve that opportunity.”