A scheme which makes domestic abusers wear electronic tracking tags has been expanded in London.
Sadiq Khan has announced the mayor’s office will spend £350,000 on 300 more GPS tags to be worn by violent and persistent offenders convicted of domestic abuse or knife crime when they are released from prison.
The new funding will expand an existing scheme which City Hall says has kept victims safer when violent criminals are released on probation after serving their custodial sentence.
Wearing the GPS trackers means probation and police officers can monitor if an offender released on licence is meeting the terms of their probation.
This can include bans on going to certain locations due to gang links or exclusion zones where victims may live.
The tags have also been used to prove the ex-offender has committed further crimes, when detectives have matched the GPS location data from them with other evidence.
“Tackling violence and making our city safer is my number one priority and I’m determined to be tough on crime and tough on the complex causes of crime,” said Mr Khan.
“In London, we’ve seen the impact tagging offenders on release from prison can have on ensuring they comply with the conditions of their release, as well as making sure those who reoffend are swiftly returned to prison. This innovative programme aims to change offenders’ behaviour, reduce reoffending, and provide increased protection for victims.”
The scheme was originally launched solely for knife crime offenders in 2019 and was first expanded to include those imprisoned for domestic abuse in March.
Of the 600 offenders tagged since 2019, more than half have successfully completed their probation and a further 160 have been returned to prison after the GPS trackers revealed they had broken the terms of their release on licence.
Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid have praised the expansion of the scheme, saying it would provide more protection for survivors and victims.
Sophie Francis-Canfield, policy manager at the charity, told the Evening Standard City Hall should also include specialist support for women and children affected by domestic abuse.
She said: “Pilot schemes, such as this one, should have survivors at its heart, as they are the experts in the continued and ongoing risk that an abuser poses.”
She also said the experimentation in London could provide “crucial learning” for new amendments to national domestic abuse law which potentially could see electronic tagging rolled out across the country in the future.
The announcement by City Hall came days after the Metropolitan Police revealed a new unit set up only nine months ago to focus on domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, stalking and human trafficking has already arrested 2,000 suspects.
Commander Melanie Dales said since the Covid pandemic began the force was very aware the lockdown restrictions could make those in abusive relationships more at risk, and added the Met was committed to tackling violent offences as its priority.