Expand tagging of offenders in Dorset
This Commitment supports the PCC’s ambition of expanding the use of electronic tags as a tool for managing offenders in the community and assisting with rehabilitation and addressing offending behaviour.
The Dorset Police Integrated Offender Management (IOM) team deal with up to 80 of the most prolific local offenders. These are often acquisitive crime offenders with a higher risk of offending but lower risk of threat of physical harm to others, but the team does also work with other types of offenders.
The IOM works alongside a number of agencies, including those dealing with drugs, housing, as well as the probation service, to manage offenders. They also liaise with offender managers within the prison service. Where necessary, they can gather intelligence on offenders and organise Force activity targeting prolific offenders who don’t reform. Officers on the team try to maintain a one-to-one relationship with offenders, with a view to preventing further crimes being committed.
One of the tools available is the use of GPS tagging. These are placed on offenders on a voluntary basis and monitor their location 24/7, saving the police time and resources. Although voluntary, a GPS tag serves to benefit both the police and the offender wearing it. Various parts of an offender's licence conditions can be relaxed if they opt to wear a tag and it allows them to build trust with the police and partner agencies. It also deters offending, as offenders know they can be monitored, and in a few cases where bail conditions have been breached, evidence from the tags can help in court.
The IOM team currently manage around 20 tags. The PCC has worked closely with the Force to increase awareness of the work of the IOM team and the availability of GPS tags as a proactive tool to manage offenders and reduce crime.
The Chief Constable has also agreed to the PCC’s request for a trial of alternative tags within the IOM team. Two providers have been identified as potentially more technologically advanced than the tags currently used locally. A six-month pilot was launched in summer 2019, with the Chief Constable agreeing to provide some additional resource to facilitate this.
The pilot is due to finish in January 2020 and the final evaluation will make recommendations for the future use of GPS tags in Dorset. The report will also recognise any new technological developments currently emerging, and will evaluate the use of a very small number of proximity tags that can be used in domestic abuse and stalking cases.
Alongside the work occurring locally, in February 2019 the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced the national rollout of new GPS tags to provide 24/7 location monitoring of offenders. Location monitoring can be used to alert when offenders enter specific locations or addresses, monitoring their trail and including a curfew condition.
The MoJ has briefed Dorset Police on the use of these new tags, but they have not been specifically allocated to Dorset as the scheme is being managed nationally. The PCC will monitor these arrangements and their effectiveness in complementing local offender management processes.
A regional procurement exercise for the purchase of new tags was set up in autumn 2018 and the OPCC has been engaged and able to inform the process. This is now on hold until early 2020, to await the outcome of the pilot project funded by the Dorset PCC.