Sussex voluntary tags 'stop burglars reoffending'

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A voluntary tagging scheme for ex-prisoners has stopped any of the burglars involved from reoffending, Sussex Police say.

The tags, which use GPS technology, have been worn by 20 ex-prisoners since the force began a trial in July.

Manager Toni Pettman said historical data showed the wearers otherwise would have committed a number of burglaries.

Former armed robber Noel Stephen-Smith said it was a good scheme for those who wanted to give up crime.

Ex-offender's view

An ex-offender, who served two jail terms of 18 months and 27 months, said his tag helped him to focus on going straight.

"It is better for me to have a tag on my leg because it is an incentive to not do anything," said the man, who did not want to be named.

"I am working now - you just waste too much of your life in prison.

"I regret my past but you've just got to move forward."

The system has previously been trialled in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, where the Ministry of Justice said officials would visit Bedfordshire Police HQ to discuss the initiative.

"We were predominantly focusing on burglars and we have had no burglaries from someone wearing a tag," said Ms Pettman.

"A lot of offenders find that people around them don't believe them when they say they have changed and this is something that can prove that they have actually made that change."

She said the tags also gave the wearers an alibi if police thought they might have been involved in a burglary.

Mr Stephen-Smith, now an author and commissioning editor of Inside Time, a monthly newspaper for prisoners, said: "I am wondering if it could be rolled out in the rest of the country if it works that well.

"There is a small proportion of criminals who react well to supervision and who want to give up crime if they can and this would be a good scheme for that."

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