Electronic tagging 'changes needed to save money'

An electronic tag on a leg The report says it is 10 times more expensive per offender to tag in England and Wales than in the US

Related Stories

The system of electronic monitoring of offenders in England and Wales should be changed to save millions of pounds, a think tank has suggested.

Policy Exchange said the current arrangements were too expensive and had failed to cut re-offending.

It says £70m would be saved if tagging were done by police or probation officers instead of private firms.

The government said that from April new contracts for electronic monitoring would represent better value.

The Future of Corrections report said much of the potential benefits of tagging had not been realised.

Electronic monitoring of offenders, which includes ankle tags and satellite technology, is provided by companies G4S and Serco.

The report says almost £70m a year would be freed up if the firms handed over the technology so that police and probation officers could monitor and fit the ankle tags instead.

It said this would then pay for 2,000 probation officers or 1,200 additional police officers to work on offender management.

The report added that officers should also be able to make recommendations to courts and prison governors on who ought to be tagged.

'Victims reassurance'

Policy Exchange said that for each offender, electronic monitoring cost £13.14 per monitored day in England and Wales, while the equivalent in the US was £1.22.

Rory Geoghegan, the report's author, said: "Extending the use of tagging without these reforms will just see millions of pounds wasted and a real opportunity to cut crime missed."

Chris Miller, a former assistant chief constable who spoke for police chiefs on tagging, said: "What we have been given instead is a sclerotic, centrally controlled, top-down system that has enriched two or three large suppliers, that lacks the innovation and flexibility of international comparators, and that fails to demonstrate either that it is value for money or that it does anything to reduce offending."

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said new guidelines being introduced "call for a smarter, more integrated approach that takes advantage of the latest technology".

"Properly administered, new generation tagging can promote improved behaviour and give victims reassurance," he said.

'Robust alternative'

The critical report comes after G4S was awarded a five-year £13m contract by the Scottish government last week to run hi-tech new tags with GPS technology, giving authorities the ability to continuously track offenders' whereabouts.

Richard Morris, group managing director of G4S Care and Justice Services, said: "The use of electronic monitoring in England and Wales actually saves the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds each year by providing a robust alternative to expensive prison custody for offenders who are deemed suitable for tagging.

"We have also worked closely with the Ministry of Justice over the years to introduce innovations and changes to the original service which have resulted in improved value for money."

G4S monitors more than 50,000 people in more than 15 countries, he added.

Serco said it did not wish to comment.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    If we were to tag the taggers to keep them away from society it might save a small fortune!

    Then, of course, we have to consider the criminals.

    How come thousands of criminals can be locked up without being able to do anything productive? What is needed is a jail that criminals could go to, (if they want to), where they could work to pay for their keep. Provide "perks" and it just might work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    "83. mainsail67

    Private companies seem to see goverment contracts as a cash cow. And why don't civil servants ensure we get value for money?"

    - As they're too busy chasing benefit fraud, instead of bankers, the latters' drain on the economy being 200 times larger. Let alone private profit from public money with the profits going offshore. Corruption needs to be killed from the TOP-down!

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    199. "any process requiring monitoring can be cheated and is therefore expensive to run. Jails are equally expensive and equally ineffective in terms of rehabilitation."

    Where did you pull that out of exactly? All research I'm aware of indicates that rehabilitation programmes reduce recidivism A LOT more than jailtime. It seems misleading.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Tagging is a joke. Stop it.

    Make them pick litter wearing bright pink overalls with 'criminal' written on the back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.


    "Be cheaper to send to them to Australia like we used to. A one way fare to Oz would be the only cost involved"

    Australia is not our rubbish bin. Far from it, they have the courage to chuck foreign criminals out. Maybe if we adopted their attitude we could save a lot more than £70 million on tagging ,lawyers. medical costs , and on and on

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Lets change the law - Bring in "the Judges" I wonder if there is a police officer out there called Dredd?

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Tags don't work. I have had to arrest the same person more than 7 times in one week for breach of tag. What does the court do? Sends him home again with the same conditions. This is a prolific burglar...waste of time and money and it all goes to that shambles...Group 4. I've also known of Group 4 staff refuse to fit the tag as a result the person has been in breach of their order. It's a farce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Instead of spending all this money on tagging these people might it not be money better spent if it was spent on training, education and benefits for these people. It would at least give them some hope and even with a small success rate the benefits to the public coffers would be immediately apparent. Better for the offenders, better for the treasury better for everyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    And can we stop encrusting them with diamonds. Whoever thought of that was just....tsk. It does not send out the message that the government is "well ard" as was the intention.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Instead of a tag , what about a very heavy ball and chain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    200. Pete


    Wouldnt those presently doing the job become unemployed? I think a police pension pays rather more than unemployment benefits . £70 million , 1200 officers , thats £58000 per officer

    You were the one talking about adding 1200 offices to deal with the management of tags if private companies weren't doing it. I simply said rather 1200 extra officers than shareholder profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    "Ok, I wonder which of the 'plebs' in government have shares in that company in their own personal portfolio"

    Or how many former police officers have landed nice jobs with these companies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    why not have a tag that sends a constant signal whilst connected to the body, once removed an alarm is triggered at the "watch station" which could actively be monitored from within a 999 call centre instead of the private company. Immediate response to the police to act upon. Alternatively use zip tie and connect it tightly around the neck!

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    So where exactly does all this £70m go? Into the pockets of the G4S Exec board? This is an established system. Surely running costs should decrease year on year as it matures.... Or am I looking at this worong?

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    As these devices only cost a few quid each then about 99% of the overall cost per day must just be admin, a few pence in running cost & then massive profit for the company involved....Ok, I wonder which of the 'plebs' in government have shares in that company in their own personal portfolio.

  • Comment number 205.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Be cheaper to send to them to Australia like we used to. A one way fare to Oz would be the only cost involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Let's see: I can imagine a lot of "consultants" in suits and a lot of waffle in business cliché speak about "deliverables" and "strategies going forward" and a lot of money disappearing into the pockets of said suits and not much attention applied to the real work issues or money going to the people who do the real work.

    Welcome to 2012!

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Tagging < The stocks.

    Bring back the stocks...

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    hahah a job that can be done by probation? Probation cannot do the job of probation - not because they are over-worked but because they are uneducated, unintelligent, unresponsive; uncaring & unaccountable. I am currently suing the probation service for negligence. So far this has cost approx £100,000. The entire system is a waste of money.


Page 6 of 16


More UK stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.