Reliance in frame to tag sex offenders
THE security company Reliance is in the running for a multi-million-pound deal to tag some of the country’s most dangerous sex offenders, just weeks after losing a contract because of poor performance.
In the first scheme of its kind in Europe, trials are under way in three areas of England using satellite tracking in the fight against crime. Last night, Home Office sources said they were confident that the project would be rolled out to Scotland late next year.
Three companies are bidding for the lucrative tagging contract: Securicor, Premier Monitoring Services and Reliance Monitoring Services.
The firms are currently operating pilot schemes in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Hampshire.
Victims’ groups rounded on Reliance, raising concerns about its Reliance Custodial Services division, which has been responsible for the accidental release of 12 prisoners in Scotland, including a convicted murderer.
Sandy Brindley, national development worker for Rape Crisis Scotland, said: "There are lots of concerns about public safety and sex offenders. It’s essential that there is public confidence, and it’s important that whoever gets the contract has a proven track record."
Last month, Reliance Monitoring Services lost a Home Office contract worth 18 million a year to supply electronic tagging to prison authorities in southern England.
The firm lost the contract after a number of allegations surrounding faulty equipment. In one case, in Gloucester, an electronically tagged defendant awaiting trial on kidnap and assault charges was caught on CCTV breaking the terms of his tagging order without his absence being noticed.
"I’m confident that [electronic tagging] will happen in Scotland as well," said a Home Office source.
"At the moment, sex offenders come out of prison and they are not checked. The technology isn’t 100 per cent but we’re getting there. We’ve got nothing else, so this is a step forward in monitoring this kind of offender."
Paedophiles, violent criminals and sex offenders will be tagged with tracking devices capable of checking their every move.
The devices, which, unlike existing tags, use satellite- positioning technology to pinpoint their location, will contain built-in electronic diaries that can be downloaded to provide a minute-by-minute record of where the offender has been.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office confirmed the pilot schemes had begun, and said the technology would act as a "prison without bars".
Some of the country’s leading sheriffs and solicitors have expressed concerns that newly recruited security officers were not equipped to deal with the volatile situations that arise in court.
The development heaped more pressure on Cathy Jamieson, the justice minister , who has faced repeated calls for her resignation since Reliance took over prisoner escort duties in Scotland.
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