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
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.