Written Ministerial Statement made by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab MP.
I would like to provide the House with an update on the progress of our electronic monitoring programme which will introduce new satellite tracking technology to improve the supervision and management of offenders and suspects.
This is a huge opportunity to reduce reoffending, cut costs for taxpayers and keep the public safe.
That is why we are committed to delivering a new generation of tags through contracts designed to encourage innovation, deliver an end-to-end system for monitoring offenders and provide for future technological developments.
With this new technology we can be creative and look at how we can use satellite tags to devise new sentencing options for the courts. We want to use technology to make sure we not only deliver the punishments that society rightly expects but also improve supervision in the community and support offenders to change their lives.
My colleague Andrew Selous announced to the House on 13 July last year that there had been significant problems with this programme, leading to considerable delays. As a result, we initiated a review into the programme, looking at how to get the programme back on track. This review examined progress made on the programme to date and how best electronic monitoring technology can meet our ambitions for the future, and considered the experience of other jurisdictions around the world who have developed GPS tagging schemes.
Developing bespoke tags has been challenging and it is now clear that it will be more appropriate to pursue our goals using off-the-shelf technology which is already available. That is why the Ministry of Justice will be terminating our contract to develop a bespoke tagging product with Steatite Limited and will shortly begin a new procurement process for proven tags already on the market.
This decision will mean we can proceed with wider changes to the way we manage the programme. We will simplify our approach in order to meet the challenges of technical and business integration and continue to drive and monitor delivery from the other suppliers.
This remains a challenging programme, which we will continue to keep under review.
As the Prime Minister announced during his speech on prison reform on 8 February, we will begin pilots later this year which will inform how we use GPS tracking technologies to best effect in the future. These pilots will be run in a variety of settings in conjunction with criminal justice partners and will be designed to test how GPS technology is used and how it affects behaviour. The pilots will be independently evaluated and the results will inform policy decisions on the future use of this important tool.
Furthermore, following the conclusion of the pilot in South London of sobriety tags as part of an Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement, the Justice Secretary has approved the expansion of the scheme to the whole of London to give courts in the capital the means to tackle the damaging effects of crime committed whilst under the influence of alcohol. An evaluation of sobriety tagging in London will inform our decisions about wider national roll-out.