GPS delay lets sex offenders off the hook

Kenny MacAskill yesterday revealed a working group would meet this month. Picture: TSPL

Kenny MacAskill yesterday revealed a working group would meet this month. Picture: TSPL

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THE Scottish Government has been urged to stop “dragging its heels” over the introduction of satellite tagging of sex offenders.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill yesterday revealed a working group would meet this month, more than a year after a consultation was launched.

However, opposition parties warned the delay meant some offenders may have “fled the country and gone missing”.

The working group will start testing and costing the use of GPS (global positioning systems) monitoring and US-style alcohol bracelets.

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But Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “We have been calling for the introduction of GPS to track sex offenders since 2007, but the SNP has dragged its heels on its introduction.

“As a result, some offenders supposed to be under the watch of the authorities, have fled the country and gone missing.

“Any further delays could increase the risk to the public from these people re-offending.”

Radio-based electronic monitoring of offenders, involving tagging, has been used in Scotland since 2002.

It is now used to help monitor a variety of community sentences, as well as being included in licence conditions when convicts are released from prison.

Mr MacAskill said: “GPS technology appears to offer potential opportunities for the management of sex offenders or in cases of ­domestic abuse.

“However, some concerns have been raised into the effectiveness of this technology, so I want the new expert group to carry out thorough testing and make recommendations to the Scottish Government to allow us to consider whether it is suitable for use on any offenders in Scotland.”

Police Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service, security firm G4S, the Violence Reduction Unit, Social Work Scotland, the Judicial Institute for Scotland and academics will all be on the new working group.

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