The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced new £900,000 City Hall investment to extend his GPS tagging pilot programme which is working to keep Londoners safe by tagging knife crime and domestic abuse offenders who have been released from prison.
The innovative £4.5m scheme works by those who have served custodial sentences for knife crime offences, such as being in possession of a knife, robbery, aggravated burglary and GBH, as well as domestic abuse offenders being fitted with a GPS tracking device, which is issued under strict licence conditions.
Fresh evaluation of the GPS tagging pilot shows that the use of this technology is helping to reduce the risks offenders pose to their victims and putting the emphasis of behaviour change on perpetrators not victims as part of the Mayor’s action to build a safer London for everyone.
Since the City Hall pilot launched in February 2019, more than 500 tagged offenders across London who have breached their licence conditions have been recalled to prison – 372 were knife crime offenders and 147 were domestic abuse offenders. This includes 145 cases where GPS data was used to evidence otherwise hidden behaviour and confirm that tagged offenders had breached their conditions, such as entering a monitored exclusion zone.
In addition to the 519 individuals who have been recalled across both pilots, the tagging scheme is also working to ensure compliance with licencing conditions. New data released today shows more than half of the tagged offenders on the entire pilot (872) complied with their licence conditions during the period of GPS monitoring.
The Mayor’s extension of the GPS tagging pilot is part of Sadiq’s continued action on being tough on crime and tough on its complex causes and to safeguard women and girls (VAWG) who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence offending. To date, the pilots have included monitoring 142 tagged individuals convicted previously of stalking and repeat victimisation of specific women and girls within the context of domestic abuse.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am committed to doing all I can to protect and support victims of domestic abuse in the capital and tackle the scourge of knife crime and that is why I am pleased to expand my pioneering GPS tagging pilot.
“It is working to safeguard those most at risk and rightly puts the emphasis on perpetrators of violence to change their behaviour not victims. Since 2019, more than 1,600 knife crime and domestic abuse offenders have been tagged in London – more than half of those have complied and the technology has worked to recall more than 500 who breached their conditions.
“This scheme is using state-of-the-art technology to protect victims and enhancing our partnership work with the probation service and police to better manage offenders and build a safer London for everyone.”
Kilvinder Vigurs, London Regional Director for the Probation Service, said: “GPS tagging is an integral part of our work as it gives probation staff the ability to keep a much closer eye on the whereabouts of offenders under their supervision.
“This cutting-edge technology was rolled out nationally in 2019 to monitor offenders’ compliance with their licence conditions and prevents ex-criminals from falling back into a life of crime.”
Commander Nick John, who leads on Criminal Justice for the Metropolitan Police, said: “We support the extension of the GPS tagging pilot programme, which has helped us to identify domestic abuse and knife crime offenders, who break their licence conditions, allowing us to send them back to prison.
“Domestic abuse and knife crime have a devastating impact on individuals, their families and the wider community.
“This is one aspect of the work we are doing to tackle VAWG and violence associated with knife-crime in London.
“Tackling violence remains front and centre of our focus and this scheme has enabled us to take violent repeat offenders off London streets, helping to keep victims and the wider public safe from harm.”
Anonymised Domestic Abuse Case Study: Mr X was sentenced in May 2021 at Crown Court to 48 months for the offence of Stalking involving fear of violence.
The offences involved stalking an ex-partner for over seven months, both in person at her house and via in excess of 240 telephone calls on some days, which were abusive and intimidating. Various other forms of behaviour were used to initiate contact with the victim and make formal enquiries about her and her address without her knowledge. A Non-Molestation Order had been put in place, however Mr X claimed that he was not aware of this.
Following his release from prison in November 2022, Mr X was made subject to GPS monitoring as part of the MOPAC Domestic Abuse pilot. This included using GPS data to monitor an exclusion zone around the victim and access to data to monitor changes in behaviour and where Mr X was spending most of his time. Police and Probation colleagues were managing the case jointly through Integrated Offender Management (IOM) and specialist advice was also obtained from the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (S-TAC) team.
In January 2023, a new domestic abuse concern was reported by a new partner, in which Mr X had sent abusive and threatening messages. GPS data was used to place Mr X at the scene of the new incident, which led to him being recalled back to prison on the grounds of increased risk and this evidence supported his assessed high risk of harm to current and previous partners. As a result of this assessment, Mr X remains in custody.