back to article NHS trust tags mentally ill offenders

The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is using satellites to track psychiatric patients with criminal convictions. The launch follows a successful 12 month pilot project in which 35 mentally ill patients at River House, a medium security psychiatric unit at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham, took part. The …


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  1. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    I like the idea from experience

    The road I live in has a mental health charity which has residents living in small rooms, they are free to come and go as they wish.

    Mostly they spend their days keeping the local pub in business, I'm kinda ok with that but maybe the money they receive could be put to better use than beer.

    However there was an incident a few weeks ago, someone was outside my house at 3am on a Sunday morning having an obvious mental breakdown, they were shouting and screaming at their mother (Who wasn't present) telling her that how much this person hated her. The person was going completely bersek at the top of their voice with awful foul language to match.

    I was about to phone the police when other residents started coming out their houses telling this person to shut up and go home.

    Now I have no idea if this person was from the mental health charity, but if they were tagged myslef and the charity would have been able to check to see if it was one of their residents.

    I still see this person hanging around the street daily, tagging would certainly help the charity keep a check on the ones who may need it.

    Oh course this is not NHS run so I don't expect anything to happen soon.

  2. Alan Firminger

    Nasty illiberal

    But probably a good way forward. The hospital was pr aware as it provided an approving patient.

    A tag is better than a lock.

    What we need is a way of tracking severe sex offenders in car. Such technology would have prevented all the nasty news stories of the last twenty years.

    1. hugo tyson

      tracking in cars?

      First you have to know which people are the severe sex offenders, before you can track them in their cars.

      Majority of "nasty news stories of the last twenty years" were first (detected) offences.

      Huntley excepted; but he got near to kids again by moving and changing name; if that paperwork had not failed, he would have been prevented by the existing employment checks.

    2. LinkOfHyrule

      Most kids...

      Most kids who are murdered are killed by their own parents so by that logic, we should be handing out tags at the exit to the maternity ward.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are they watching me?

    Explaining this to a deeply paranoid patient should be interesting.

    Mr X., NASA, CIA, NSA, MI6 are definatly not tracking you from space!

    What is this ankle bracelet you ask?

    Well that is just a innocent and harmless NHS satellite tracking device.

    My Anonymous posting and tin-foil hat should protect me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think

      I think a risk assesment is probably done, doing this to a paranoid schitzophrenic would probably be a no no (even if explained and they believe you whilst they're stable doesn't mean they wont go off the handle when they arn't stable.)

    2. david wilson

      @AC 11:18

      >>"Explaining this to a deeply paranoid patient should be interesting."

      I'm not psychiatrist, but I could see that going two ways.

      If there's something that exists, and that everyone agrees exists, is it always harmful even if it does tally to some extent with someone's fantasies?

      If someone occasionally believes they're being tracked/watched by evil people, would giving them something inanimate to focus on necessarily make things worse, either for them, or other people?

      I'd far rather someone spent their energies trying to beat up a CCTV camera or smash an ankle tag off or argue with a vending machine than have them assume that I or some other random passer-by have a camera hidden somewhere inside my skull.

  4. Lottie

    Interesting idea

    I know from my time working in a psychiatric unit that occasionally one of our service users would go off on leave and not come back for a while. In those cases we'd have to call the police(who treated the patients as scum and beat the shit out of them because they *could*), deal with the inevitable hassle from the cops who had to do their JOB of all things and of the agitated service user who'd been through a traumatic time being bought back.

    A lot of the time, it was simple things like watching a movie and forgetting the time, getting lost or just forgetting to come back that were the reasons for staying away and if we had something where a couple of members of staff could just pop along to where the service user was and say "eh up, time to come back", it would have been less dehumanising and less hasslesome for all concerned.

    TL;DR - I reckon they're a good idea.

    1. Lexxy

      Too Lazy, Didn't Read

      Can I just express my discomfort at 'TL;DR' which is creeping its way out of forums of a young demographic: It's a poor excuse for intellectual lazyness and a completely moot, immature point to make when used as a statement.

      I'm not having a stab at you Lottie, you just needn't summarize your opinions into one line for the risk of some smug adolecent replying with "TL;DR". If people care enough to view the comments on an article - i figure people are going to read them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        TL;DR? GTFO!

        I point dear lottie to the field named "title" to use for a one-line summary. Also known elsewhere as a "Subject" field.

        And yes, TD;DR deserves to die a fiery death. If you can't be arsed to read the discussions then don't read the discussions. How hard is that? Sheesh.

        We're here to discuss. So discuss.

        In other context, TL;DR is equally a sign of failure: The reaction to failure to trim and not top-post, and failure to make a concise point, perhaps to a previously on-topic and concise discussion. But itself also failure, and taunting your partner in communication with overall failure. Failure loves company?

  5. JaitcH

    Seems the charges are excessive

    The tracking service is little better than that offered by Spot emergency beacons and an annual service charge (satellite/web site based) is way, way less than £50 per month.

    Perhapps hey should re-negotiate their contracts.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really, really poor reporting for an IT rag.

    "Using satellites to track" -- if they mean GPS, then the satellites just hang there and broadcast a signal that can be used to figure out where you are. We all knew that, but this article implies they were especially launched for the occasion or something. More importantly: These things are decidedly one-way. What's the uplink? It sure is not the GPS satellites. It could be iridium sats, but I think it's far more likely it'll be GSM towers. Simply because ankle-bound tracking devices have a limit on size and weight. That has clear implications on the reach. And not just technically: Supposing GSM, are there roaming agreements in place, or will the tracking stop at poor coverage or worse, just over the border? And what about endurance? How long until the batteries run out?

    Yes, there are other important things to consider with this, too, but I don't think it's too much to ask from el reg to at least get the technical backgrounder somewhat factually correct and minimally informing. This is neither. In fact, it's downright misleading.

    Yes, I realise this came originally from elsewhere. That just means you can't meaningfully copy+paste with abandon. In fact, we already have too much mindless repeating as it is.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      A surprising amount of stuff *can* be tracked by signals *too* geosynchronous satellites. However for this thing I don't thing the continuous function would be OK with a GSM or 3G service. Iridium or (I thought there was one other service still operating using LEO sats from OSC) would be most likely. However not sure.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    This is creepy

    Possibly (not certainly) done with the best intentions I somehow have a very bad feeling about this.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    whooo ....

    "They" always target those with mental illness first

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