Satellite tagging plans throwing good money after bad

Friday, 26 February 2016

The Centre's director, Richard Garside, said today that the Ministry of Justice should halt plans to commission off-the-shelve satellite tagging technology.

His comments follow yesterday's announcement that the Ministry was shelving its controversial programme to develop a bespoke satellite tagging programme.

There remains no reliable evidence, Mr Garside pointed out, that routine satellite tagging delivers any real benefit in relation to public safety or a reduction in reconvictions. The routine use of such an intrusive technology also raised ethical and human rights concerns.

Before taking any further steps to commission off-the-shelf technology, he added, the Ministry of Justice should seek an independent and rigorous assessment of the efficacy and value of the routine use of satellite tagging.

Last year the Centre revealed that the Ministry of Justice was still paying controversial security firms G4S and Serco millions of pounds a month for electronic tagging, long after both companies were supposedly banned from delivering such work.

G4S has a contract to deliver satellite tagging in Scotland, placing the company in pole position to pick up a much more lucrative contract in England and Wales.

Richard Garside said:

'The government has already squandered over £20 million on a failed satellite tagging programme. I'm concerned that it is now intent on throwing more good money after bad by commissioning an off-the-shelf system.

'There is no clear evidence that satellite tagging convicted people in the community has any meaningful impact on public safety or the reduction of reconvictions.

'Subjecting citizens to costly, unnecessary and intrusive surveillance also raises numerous ethical and human rights concerns.

'Before commissioning such an intrusive and costly technology, the government should undertake a rigorous assessment of its costs, benefits and dangers.'