The plan to use ‘bespoke’ tags to monitor criminals via GPS satellites has been abandoned by the Tories after the project ran into technical difficulties, costing the taxpayer up to £23 million.
Ministers will now look to use available off-the-shelf technologies to achieve their goals.
The Telegraph reports:
Ministers wanted to develop their own “bespoke” tags to monitor offenders on release or bail via GPS.
But a string of delays and problems has forced the Ministry of Justice to abandon the scheme.
Previous attempts have been beset with technology problems including losing the signal when the offender is next to a tall building or even under a tree.
Around £21 million of the £23 million research project has already been spent and officials refused to say whether the department will be liable for the rest as well.
Instead, they will now simply look to buy the technology that is already on the market.
The move marks the latest in a string of U-turns since Mr Gove replaced Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary, including scrapping the controversial criminal courts charge, ditching plans for “secure colleges” and terminating a controversial £5.9 million bid to run prison training services in Saudi Arabia.
Jo Stevens, shadow prisons and probation minister, said: “It beggars belief that the Ministry of Justice has had to abandon yet another procurement process.
“From the overcharging scandal to G4S and Serco still being paid to deliver tagging equipment after they had been barred from running the contract, this whole saga has been a shambles from start to finish.
“The Tories must now come clean on how much this latest episode of financial mismanagement has cost the taxpayer and get on with focusing on the rehabilitation of offenders.”
The programme to develop specially tailored satellite tags was announced in July 2014.
It was initially hoped that some offenders could be using them by the end of that year and all 1,500 prisoners released on licence each day would be fitted by the end of 2015.
But last summer, Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, told MPs there was a “big problem” in getting the technology right and revealed that a review was under way.
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