Knife crime offenders to be GPS tagged after release from prison in London

Pilot scheme will see movement of convicts automatically checked against location of reported crimes

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Monday 11 February 2019 13:34
Cressida Dick on London knife crime spike: 'We clearly, as a city, have a big problem'

Knife offenders are to have their movements tracked by a GPS tag as part of a new pilot in London.

People being released from prison after serving sentences for stabbings, knife possession, robbery and other crimes will be tagged as part of strict licence conditions.

Electronic monitoring is routinely used in England and Wales to keep tabs on curfews and specific conditions imposed by courts or the probation service, rather than as a general movement tracking tool.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said the pilot aimed to reduce reoffending, improve rehabilitation and give police evidence of potential offences.

He said City Hall and the Metropolitan Police were working to tackle “unacceptably high” violent crime, adding: “The causes are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems – such as poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people – that enforcement alone won’t solve and have been made much worse by huge government cuts to the police and preventative services.”

The one-year pilot will be used for 100 offenders in four London boroughs most affected by knife crime, with offenders deemed most likely to reoffend having their movements automatically checked against the location of reported crimes.

Carina Heckroodt, head of the London gangs unit in the National Probation Service said: “These tags will provide a constant physical reminder of an offender’s licence conditions, encouraging them to comply with their restrictions and deterring them from further offending and protect victims.”

The announcement came as Sajid Javid warned there was no “magic wand” to end violence that is terrorising communities.

“I am determined to prevent violent crime scarring our society, terrorising our communities and, most devastatingly, destroying the lives of our next generation,” the home secretary wrote in The Times.

"The causes of violent crime are complex, and while I wish there was just one solution to end this, there is no magic wand we can wave.”

Mr Javid defended the government's proposed new knife crime prevention orders, which could be used to impose curfews or restrictions on social media use on children as young as 12.

At a meeting of the national Serious Violence Taskforce on Monday, the home secretary announced a “youth advocates” programme that will see community members, such as sport coaches and youth workers, trained to talk to teenagers about knife possession.

The programme, running in London and Manchester, aims to help tackle conflict and substance misuse.

London’s violence reduction unit is currently examining past murder and stabbing cases to develop a “public health approach” to tackling violence.

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Mr Khan has raised the council tax policing precept for a second consecutive year to invest a further £85m in the Metropolitan Police, which he said had suffered £850m cuts since 2010.

Separate research found that youth service budgets have been cut by almost half in London, resulting in the closure of 81 youth centres and the loss of at least 800 full-time youth workers.

A man believed to be in his 30s was stabbed to death in East Dulwich in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In a separate incident, four teenagers were arrested after a 16-year-old boy was found stabbed in Hayes on Saturday.

There were 128 homicides in London in 2018, the highest number in a calendar year this decade.

Fatal stabbings hit a record of 285 across England and Wales in the year to March 2018 - the largest figure since recording started in 1946.

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