UK ‘wasted’ £98m on attempts to revamp criminal electronic tagging system
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The government has “wasted” £98m in its attempts to revamp the system used for electronically tagging criminals, with no evidence that it cuts reoffending rates, the National Audit Office (NAO) has found.
Electronic monitoring allows the police, courts, probation and immigration services to monitor offenders’ locations and compliance with court orders.
Regarded as a cost-effective alternative to custody, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) launched a programme in 2011 to transform the system by improving its efficiency and capability by introducing new technologies and adding more sentencing options.
But the NAO said that the “fundamental transformation” of the tagging services, which was sought through the £98m adoption of the Gemini case management system, was managed poorly.
Gemini was ultimately dumped by the government last year in order to prevent the taxpayer from incurring further losses through its use.
“Its lack of focus on monitoring benefits and continued poor evidence base means that – more than 10 years into the programme – Parliament still does not have a clear view on what it has achieved or whether electronic monitoring is an effective intervention. To date, HMPPS has not achieved value for money,” the NAO said in its report.
HMPPS plans to now transition to another new service although it has limited time to do so, the report added.
“At this early stage it does not yet know how easy it will be to integrate prospective suppliers’ work,” it said.
“Ultimately, achieving value for money in the future will depend on HMPPS delivering a reliable, responsive and cost-effective service to stakeholders, supported by evidence that tagging brings proven reductions in reoffending and that more offenders are diverted from prison.”
Previously, tagging technologies relied upon a GPS device attached to an offender’s ankle that constantly transmits information about its location through a basestation connected to a power supply located in the offender’s home.
If the tag is not within the reach of the basestation, authorities are automatically alerted. However, the limited range of the home basestation was cited as a major drawback, and something that Capita began overhauling in 2013 to allow for continuous monitoring 24 hours a day.
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