24-hour GPS monitoring for high-risk offenders

  • Anne Tolley

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says 24-hour Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring of high-risk offenders is to be introduced for the first time in New Zealand to strengthen public safety.

Real time monitoring, using ankle bracelets, will track the movements of offenders in the community, and Corrections staff will be alerted and can intervene if offenders stray into exclusion zones such as parks, schools and other specific locations or if they break curfew.

The staged introduction, beginning in August, will initially involve 11 child sex offenders currently on extended supervision orders or on parole with special conditions. This number is planned to rise to up to 90 by the end of this year, and up to 200 in 2013, and will also include high-risk offenders pending release, and those already in the community.

“GPS tracking will be a valuable tool for Corrections and will give peace of mind to communities,” says Mrs Tolley.

“We need to stay one step ahead of these people and this proactive approach with more advanced technology allows us to reduce the risks to the public.

“Existing electronic monitoring only works while an offender is in a set location, such as at home. GPS will now allow us to keep track of high-risk offenders at all times and intervene if they are in, or close to, exclusion zones.

“We must do all we can to keep our communities safe, and GPS tracking is an excellent way to tighten up extended supervision orders, and keep tabs on the small number of offenders who require much closer monitoring.”

Current legislation allows Corrections to use GPS to monitor an offender’s whereabouts if the Parole Board, or sentencing judge, imposes a special condition on their extended supervision order, parole conditions, home detention or community detention sentence.