Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins, believes compulsory GPS tagging for offenders would help them to step off the criminal conveyor belt.
Speaking earlier today (Friday) he added that the government’s delay in regard to rolling out the national contract for GPS tagging is helping to keep offenders in a ‘revolving door of crime’.
“Clearly, it makes sense to reduce demand by reducing offending and reoffending,” he said. “To do that effectively we need to use every tool in the box and it’s a proven fact that tagging reduces reoffending. Regrettably the national contract has been delayed yet again, but PCCs should be able to deliver compulsory GPS Tagging locally to try and stop the revolving door of crime. However, as it stands, legislation does not allow us to do that.
“Compulsory tagging would support the work of our very successful integrated offender management programme, which tackles the underlying causes of offenders’ criminal behaviour, for example drugs, homelessness and unemployment.”
He added: “The role of the Criminal Justice Service covers punishment, monitoring offenders and changing their behaviour. Compulsory GPS tagging could be transformative in relation to all three elements, if only we were allowed to move forward and actually use the technology available.
“Instead we’ve had delay upon delay because the Ministry of Justice is insisting that the tags have to be provided through one monolithic national contract that they’ve so far failed to deliver.”
Mr Martins, along with the three Police and Crime Commissioners for Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, was one of the joint hosts for a conference held today aimed at reducing offending and reoffending.
Over 100 professionals from across the four counties who work together to reduce crime in local communities were in attendance plus representatives from national agencies responsible for working with offenders.
Conference delegates shared good practice and plans to further improve the work carried out through the multi-agency Integrated Offender Management schemes. These highly successful schemes aim to tackle high volume crimes, such as shop lifting and burglaries.
Mrr Martins said, “Whilst I didn’t support the coalition government’s probation privatisation, it is nonetheless vital for the communities I represent that the new arrangements work to reduce offending by tackling the underlying causes of crime. That is why I have worked closely with my Conservative Party PCC neighbours from Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire on shaping the new arrangements.
“By looking across the four counties we can learn from each other, see the bigger picture of how the system could work better and have a louder voice in unblocking national barriers that get in the way.”
Delegates also discussed how to coordinate activity across different organisations to deal with repeat offenders and their families; the role of Restorative Justice in the rehabilitation process; and how individuals are managed and supported on release from prison.
Prisoners who serve short sentences have often been vulnerable to reoffending. Following a change in legislation the BeNCH Community Rehabilitation Company is working hard to support this group of offenders in order to cut crime further.
The four Commissioners will oversee work designed to reduce offending through their new ‘BeNCH’ Reducing Offending Board.