Knife offenders to wear GPS tags in London pilot scheme

Amy Walker
The electronic ankle tags will use GPS to check the whereabouts of offenders against the location of reported crimes. Photograph: PA

Knife crime offenders in London will be tagged with tracking devices upon their release from prison in an attempt to reduce violence in the capital, the mayor has announced.

Those who have served custodial sentences for knife-related crimes such as possession, robbery, wounding, GBH and aggravated burglary will be subject to GPS tagging under a year-long pilot.

The scheme, beginning on 18 February, will be used on up to 100 offenders deemed likely to reoffend in four London boroughs that have among the highest rates of knife crime – Lewisham, Lambeth, Croydon and Southwark.

The tags will automatically check the movements of the offenders against the location of reported crimes and share significant matches with police.

The mayor, Sadiq Khan, will say on Monday: “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems – such as poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people – that enforcement alone won’t solve and have been made much worse by huge government cuts to the police and preventative services.

“This innovative pilot will build on the good work of the City Hall-funded violent crime taskforce by helping offenders integrate back into society and reducing the risk of reoffending, as well as giving the police the information they need to thoroughly investigate reported crimes.”

Carina Heckroodt, head of the London extremism, gangs and organised crime unit in the National Probation Service, said: “These tags will provide a constant physical reminder of an offender’s licence conditions, encouraging them to comply with their restrictions and deterring them from further offending and protecting victims.”

There were 128 homicides in London in 2018, the highest number in a calendar year this decade. Scotland Yard’s murder investigation unit has lost a quarter of its officers and staff over a decade.

At the weekend a man believed to be in his 30s was stabbed to death in East Dulwich, south-east London. No arrests had been made by Sunday night.

In a separate incident, a 23-year-old man was left in a critical condition after he was stabbed in Neasden, north-west London, on Saturday night. A 29-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder, and a 24-year-old woman was detained on suspicion of assisting an offender.

In west London, four people – one aged 15, one 16 and two 18 – were arrested after a 16-year-old boy was found with a stab wound when police responded to reports of a fight in Central Avenue, Hayes, just before 4pm on Saturday.