Northumbria Police have launched a pilot scheme which will allow people convicted of domestic violence to be tracked by GPS.
An ankle bracelet and handset will be carried by participating offenders whenever they leave the house. If they subsequently enter a defined ‘exclusion zone’ – for example, the area surrounding their victim’s home or place of work – a signal will be sent to a monitoring centre and from there the victim will be alerted. In some circumstances the police will also be notified, to help avoid encounters with the potential for serious consequences.
The scheme would help perpetrators of domestic violence to avoid breaching injunctions and similar restrictions and would also benefit those who find it difficult to control their behaviour when they encounter former spouses or partners.
The scheme is currently voluntary and will be operated by agreement, but if successful it could be introduced by other forces across the country and made a routine part of bail conditions for people accused of violence towards their partners.
Detective Inspector Phil Bond works in Northumbria Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Department. He said: “This equipment will be used on a voluntary basis following an agreement from both parties but will undoubtedly provide added safety for a victim who will receive early warnings of a possible meeting with their perpetrator.”
Local Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, meanwhile, believes the technology even has the potential to save lives.
“Any new technology that can reduce these incidents is of course a welcome addition to traditional policing methods already used by our officers to protect and safeguard victims.”
Image of Northumbria Police car by Ray Forster via Flickr