Burglars released from jail will be made to wear tags 24/7 to tackle reoffending, under Boris Johnson’s crackdown on crime.
The Prime Minister will announce on Tuesday that 19 police forces covering nearly half the country will be able to use the GPS tags to check the movements of burglars, thieves and muggers after they have been freed from prison.
The tagging scheme will allow forces to then check the offenders’ movements against break-ins and thefts to see if they could be suspects in any crimes.
The Government believes the scheme will not only act as a deterrent because the burglars will know they can be tracked but also will help police solve offences which they suspect have been committed by known criminals.
Nearly 80 per cent of the 402,000 burglaries a year result in no suspect being identified, while more than half of those convicted of burglary and theft reoffend within a year.
It is part of Mr Johnson’s Beating Crime Plan which will also include enhanced stop and search powers for police as well as new unpaid community work schemes where ex-offenders in high-vis jackets will have to clean graffiti and litter from neighbourhoods.
"Combining prevention, deterrent and enforcement, it will give the fantastic men and women in our police and criminal justice system the tools they need to keep people out of trouble in the first place, and to hammer those who persist in breaking the law,” the Prime Minister said in the foreword to his new plan.
Since becoming Prime Minister, Mr Johnson has put a pledge to be tough on crime at the heart of his agenda. He has previously promised tougher sentences for serious offenders and 20,000 more police officers on the street.
His new plan, which will be announced alongside Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, will also see the introduction of a named police officer in every neighborhood in England and Wales. And it proposes the creation of league tables for 101 and 999 (crime reporting and prevention) performance.
Mr Johnson said: “When I first stood on the steps of Downing Street as Prime Minister, I promised to back the police and make people safer, because we cannot level up the country when crime hits the poorest hardest and draws the most vulnerable into violence.
“That is why my Government has remained unstinting in its efforts to protect the British public and this plan delivers a fresh commitment, as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic, to have less crime, fewer victims and a safer society.”
Tighter watch on prolific burglars
Some 7,000 burglars and thieves could be tagged every year once the scheme is expanded to all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
The burglars will be required by law to wear the tags for a year unless their probation period ends before then. Any breach of their release on licence could result in their return to jail.
Police officers will be able to submit any burglaries, thefts or robberies they are investigating to a dedicated unit overseen by HM Prison and Probation Service.
The best and worst police forces for burglaries
It has been targeted at those who have served 12 months or more because they are likely to be prolific burglars and thieves with repeat convictions. The tags could be extended to other offences, such as speeding and dangerous driving, if successful.
About 1,000 GPS tags are currently being used by probation, police and the courts largely to enforce “exclusion zones” around victims of sexual offences and to prevent violent criminals in, for example, county lines gangs from meeting with their former associates.
The technology is more sophisticated than previous tagging, which simply alerted those monitoring offenders if an individual left their home but not precisely where they went, and so has been largely used to enforce dusk to dawn curfews.
The use of the technology for burglars has been piloted in six police forces and will now be extended to a further 13 police forces: Bedfordshire, the City of London, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, the Metropolitan Police, North Wales, Nottinghamshire and Sussex.
FAQ | County lines
Ministers are also introducing nationwide sobriety tags to combat alcohol addiction by ensuring probation officers are alerted if an offender drinks alcohol.
Emergency stop and search powers
The Beating Crime Plan will also make permanent police emergency stop and search powers which makes it easier to stop suspected criminals in designated areas where they believe there may be a risk of serious violence.
It also beefs up neighbourhood policing with the guarantee that every person in England and Wales should have access to a named police officer, with their contact details.
League tables will be brought in for 101 and 999 call answering times, so the public can see how responsive their force is when they call them for help.
Ministers are also developing “score cards” to hold police, prosecutors and courts to account for ensuring quicker justice for victims and improving charging rates, which have slumped for so-called “minor” crimes. There will be a pilot scheme where every burglary victim is visited by an officer.
Ms Patel said: "I am absolutely determined to cut crime and deliver a safer society for the public, and the Beating Crime Plan shows how the Government is going to do just that.
“We’re putting 20,000 new police officers on the street, equipping them with new powers to catch criminals and take away knives, and shutting down drug gangs who exploit children and the vulnerable to make money.
“This plan sets out a clear path for a better future for the British public – one with less crime, fewer victims, and a safer society for all.”
Getting tough: What are the details of the crime crackdown?
Mr Johnson on Tuesday will unveil the plan, which aims to boost police use of stop and search to combat violent crime, restore neighbourhood policing and rehabilitate persistent offenders.
The plan spanning police, courts, prison and probation is designed to meet his 2019 manifesto pledge to reduce crime.
Stop and search
Police are to get enhanced stop and search powers on a permanent basis. In the 40-page Beating Crime Plan, the Prime Minister says stop and search is a “vital tool” that has already seen 11,000 weapons removed from streets in the past year and resulted in more than 74,000 arrests.
The section 60 powers, trialled in forces across England and Wales, will be sanctioned in law enabling police to stop and search suspects in designated areas for at least 24 hours before then seeking an extension.
The new relaxed conditions allow officers to stop and search where there is only a possibility of violence rather than, as previously, having to show it will break out. The emergency orders can also be issued by officers on the ground without having to wait for approval from police chiefs in HQ.
It is part of a ramping up of stop and search which also includes new orders that are being piloted by the Metropolitan Police and which allow officers to stop any convicted knife offender at any time without suspicion.
The report says murders, serious violence, and neighbourhood crime are concentrated in certain neighbourhoods, with nearly a quarter of neighbourhood crime based in just five per cent of local areas.
It notes that many of these crimes are committed by a small number of persistent criminals, with just five per cent of offenders accounting for up to 50 per cent of all crime.
Greater Manchester Police will be used as a test bed for a policy where a police officer will be sent to every domestic burglary.
With fewer than one in five of the 400,000 burglaries every year leading to a suspect being identified, the scheme will be used to assess its impact on crime prevention, detection and public confidence.
It follows criticism of police forces in recent years for “screening out” burglaries and thefts without proper investigation because they are judged impossible to solve.
It is one of a series of measures to revive neighbourhood policing as the Government reverses five years’ of cuts in force budgets with the recruitment of 20,000 officers.
The plan promises every person in England and Wales will have access to their neighbourhood police officers digitally through a national online platform, including their contact information so that they can raise any concerns with their neighbourhood officers directly.
“The public rightly expect to be able to contact their local police – to be able to know their names, to be able to reach them, to be able to see them in their neighbourhood, and for the police to work with them in confronting crime and making their streets safer.
“If they are burgled, they expect it to be investigated and the police to attend to secure any evidence. If they provide evidence to the police, they want it followed up and to be kept informed. If their case does not proceed, they want to know why.
“They want offenders caught and punished and they want gangs hanging around their local area dealt with. When a case proceeds, they want justice to be swift and certain, and for the punishment to fit the crime.”
League tables of forces’ response times to 999 and 101 calls will enable the public to compare the best and worst, while ministers are drawing up plans for “score cards” where constabularies will have to report on how the extra 20,000 officers “are being deployed and what results they are having.”
Offenders in high-visibility vests are to be set to work on community clean-up projects to demonstrate to the public that justice is being done.
In a major revamp of community sentences, offenders convicted of theft, assaults and criminal damage will be required to clear litter-strewn roadside verges, scrub graffiti off buildings, and tidy up parks, canals, waterways and other public spaces.
The Government will introduce a new statutory duty for probation to consult a range of organisations when designing and delivering schemes to support community objectives and needs through unpaid work.
Ex-offenders leaving prison will also be targeted for jobs. A summit later this year will bring employers together to encourage more prison leavers to take jobs and turn their backs on crime. Government has set a goal of 1,000 prison leavers into Civil Service roles by the end of 2023.
Prolific burglars in 19 police forces will be GPS tagged so that police can track them to prevent them reoffending in a major expansion of a successful pilot scheme.
Criminals in England who commit alcohol-related crimes will also have to wear ankle tags that monitor their sweat every 30 minutes.
Probation officers will be alerted if the sobriety tags detect alcohol in the sweat and the offender would then face fines or other sentences in court.
An extra £17 million will be invested in violence reduction units including crisis points in hospitals where young knife victims can get support and be directed away from crime.
More than £45 million will also be invested in schools and counter-truancy measures to enable children at risk of involvement with gangs to re-engage in education.
Extra funds will be devoted to create safer streets including targeted patrols, increased lighting and CCTV, and work with councils to design out crime.
Backed by an additional £31 million, the Government’s new ADDER anti-drugs strategy will allow the police to target county lines gang leaders driving the drugs trade while better helping people to recover from addictions in more of the hardest-hit areas.