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

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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.


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  • Comment number 280.

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

  • Comment number 279.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.



    "230. I'm pretty sure that if someone *can* see a tag as a badge of honour, they could probably see a few birch marks on their bottom as one too. "

    'I hear there are those who would pay good money for such a badge!'

    and they're mostly Tory MP"""

    At last , a way to tell a Tory MP from a Milliband one

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    When, oh when are we going to wise up to the reality that contracting out services is ultimately more expensive. It de-skills staff (making procurement the only skill in town) and leaves organisations vulnerable to the unprovable marketing blather of companies like G4S and Serco. And when all the in-house knowledge is lost, the sellers can perform as poorly (and charge as much) as they please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    Criminals are laughing at the law. The actual tag is seen as a symbol to be proud of. Rehabilitation doesn't appear to work. I know this is unfashionable, but why don't we punish them. If they receive a 5 year prison sentence, they should serve the full term of imprisonment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    I think we need to bring back stocks and the cane... what could be more humiliating than having to bare your arse to a crowd whilst someone gives it a fair old whacking, then leaves you their for people to jeer at for a few hours.

    First offence: Stocks for 1 hour, 3 whacks of a cane
    Second offence: Stocks for 2 hours, 6 whacks of a cane
    Third offence: Stocks for 3 hours, 9 whacks of a cane

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    260. "I've got a feeling comment 256 went straight over your head ;-)"

    Yeah, pretty much.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Confused agendas here! The problem is not about tagging per se but about how tagging is used to the optimum benefit.
    The author of the report suggests that tagging could be much more effective and cheaper if the 2 big corporate contractors were ditched in favour of smaller more innovative system providers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    People who are tagged are not scared enough of the consequences of interfering with the tag or removing it.
    Solve the problem by making them so afraid of the levels of pain they will need to endure if they are caught, they won't touch the thing.
    You'll need to make a few examples then it's problem solved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    implant, not tag

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    Tie their shoelaces together

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

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

    I like your thinking but could we not reverse it? Us law abiding citizens get a nice permanent holiday to Australia courtesy of the government and the criminals have to stay here in the p*****g rain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    People forget that this contract was issued under the Labour Administration, even the SNP hasnt taken into consideration the G4S cockups of late.

    What I want to know is how much of that £13 is a 'project' management charge, if based on the olympics model you're looking at around 20-30%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    Lets put this government in tags, then we will know where they are, when they are suppossed to be working for our good, not their own. What a joke this government is, except its not funny for most of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    So private is cheaper then......NOT!
    Good job the tagging isn't done by the same company that tried to run the Olympic security, just kidding. It would be laughable if it wasn't such a misguided mantra.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    Public are just as bad or even worse as they are paid even more than private sector workers for doing nothing...

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    ... £13.14 per monitored day in England and Wales, while the equivalent in the US was £1.22 ......
    Looks like another G4S/Procurement contract c*ckup
    But then how can outsourced Procurement demonstrate their ongoing 'value' to the taxpayer unless they inflate the cost of contracts in the first couple of years? Conflict of interests me thinks

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    Make them pay for their incarceration.

    Make them pluck chickens for £1 an hour.

    Sack the good people who do the job today on minimum wage. They don't need the work.

    When we run out of criminals, we'll make some more. I suggest litter dropping should be a custodial crime. We have to keep those chickens plucked.

    I vote Looney Party. Join us. Vote for us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Incredibly heavy ball and chain instead?
    Or just state provided breaking their legs, that should keep them out of mischief for a few weeks at the very least.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    So instead of tags how about a traditional bal and chain?


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