By: April Carson
The Ministry of Justice in the UK is using GPS ankle tags to monitor the location of hundreds of children who have committed serious crimes, throughout the day. The move, which was first announced in 2017, has been strongly criticized by children’s rights groups.
A scheme that started in 2021 involves monitoring children as young as 12 years old. However, campaigners and researchers are criticizing the use of these tags and claim that they are unnecessary and their effectiveness has not been proven.
According to MoJ figures obtained by New Scientist, around 500 children have been subject to the tags in 2021. The use of GPS tags on children has raised concerns about their effectiveness and potential abuse. "It’s concerning that the Ministry of Justice is using such a punitive approach with children, especially when there is no evidence that these tags work to reduce reoffending," said one researcher.
Proponents of the scheme say that it allows authorities to quickly respond if a child fails to comply with their court order, such as curfews or exclusion zones set up around places like schools. However, critics argue that no evidence tracking a person’s movements prevents crime or reduces reoffending rates.
They also worry about the impact on the mental health and well-being of young people who are required to wear these tags and be monitored constantly, as well as the implications for privacy rights. There are also concerns that the use of GPS tracking could lead to greater discrimination and stigmatization of young people.
Furthermore, research by the Children’s Commissioner for England has found that many children who are subject to these tags are already in a vulnerable position. The report states: “We know too little about why particular children are being tagged and what outcomes this is having upon their lives". It also highlights how the use of GPS tags can lead to further criminalization and detention of young people.
Lucie Audibert from Privacy International, a UK charity, stated that previous research by medical and human rights organizations has shown that tagging with GPS is often perceived as being equivalent to being imprisoned and is highly stigmatizing. She also questions whether it is necessary and proportionates to track the GPS location of these children every minute of the day.
The MoJ admits no evidence tracking a person’s movements reduces reoffending, but argues that it can be a useful tool in “helping ensure that serious offenders comply with the restrictions the courts have put in place”.
In 2018, GPS ankle tags were introduced in England and Wales for monitoring adults who had been released on probation after being convicted of crimes like burglary or knife offenses. The tags can keep track of the individual's movement all day long and can be utilized to ensure that the offender avoids certain locations (like the victim's home) and attends court-mandated appointments.
In March 2021, the use of tags was expanded to include individuals under 18 years old who had committed serious violent or sexual crimes. The UK's Ministry of Justice is monitoring the effectiveness of this program in reducing reoffending rates and ensuring that children comply with their orders. In the meantime, there are still many questions about whether this type of tracking will truly benefit young people and society as a whole.
The MoJ concedes that the GPS tags are unpopular, but says they play an important role in keeping communities safe. "The use of GPS tags on children remains controversial, but they can be an effective tool in helping to protect our communities," said a spokesperson.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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