UK keen to splash out on £2.9 billion electronic tag upgrade

The Ministry of Justice is hoping to ramp up its monitoring of offenders with a massive £2.9 billion spend on new electronic tags.

The MoJ has set out proposals which would see greater control over the monitoring of individuals wearing tags as part of a court order. There are currently 25,000 people strapped with the ankle bracelets but the MoJ clearly expects this number to rise substantially, anticipating that subject volumes will “increase over the life of the proposed contract”.

A hefty new contract would last at least six years with an expected cost of between £583 million and £2.94 billion.

If the proposal is passed it could mean many more are subject to location detecting to avoid offenders visiting prohibited areas such as football grounds or pubs.

A total of 116,000 individuals were fitted with what are affectionately known as the ‘Peckham Rolex’ in London.  This is a nine percent increase over the preceding year, and it appears that the MoJ is looking to increase the number of anklets in circulation.

The actual proposal is divided into four ‘lots’.  The first includes a processing centre for rolling out the services and supplying staff hardware and software.  The second involves mapping and monitoring software applications, while the third covers the actual ankle bracelets, and the fourth covers the mobile data used by the processing centre.

While there are certainly benefits in reducing the reliance on the crowded and expensive prison system, the large scale of the tender and the ability to track individuals raises some concerns – even if we are still some way off the exploding neck tags of dystopian Japanese film Battle Royale.

Authorities in London are mulling over a decision to bring US-style alcohol detecting tags to the country, which can remotely check if a liquor ban has been breached.

In addition to David Cameron’s talk of introducing American ‘drunk tanks’, it was recently reported that alcohol related offences could see a ‘sobrietry tag’ attached to the ankles of London’s drunks.

Whether they can build a bracelet strong enough to stop British booze-hounds from chewing through them to get their hands on a bottle of cider is another question entirely.