back to article People may have been wrongly sent back to prison over faulty tags

Offenders may have been wrongly sent back to prison because of faulty electronic tags supplied by G4S, the government admitted today. In a written statement in Parliament today, Sam Gyimah, Under-Secretary of State for Prisons, Probation, Rehabilitation and Sentencing, said 115 tags used to monitor offenders were found to be …

  1. creepy gecko

    Warning letter?

    I find it hard to believe that G4S would only send a warning letter to someone they suspected of tampering with their ankle tag.

    Surely it's much easier to feel the collar of said miscreant and send him/her back to pokey?

    Who's going to believe the miscreant when he/she whines "It wasn't me Guv"?

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Warning letter?

      You can hit your wife with a cricket bat and pour bleach down her mouth and not get sent to prison. Tampering with a tag isn't going to get you sent back.

      Seriously though, the probation service are very reluctant to recall prisoners, even if they commit crimes on licence.

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So it is unlikely that a first tamper on its own will result in an offender being recalled

    Except that the tags have been proven to be faulty ... so after the first faulty reading and letter, you get a second faulty reading (because the tags are faulty, like) and then jail.

    Hopefully the compensation the victims get for unlawful imprisonment will come from G4S profits, not the public purse ?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: So it is unlikely that a first tamper on its own will result in an offender being recalled

      "Hopefully the compensation the victims get for unlawful imprisonment will come from G4S profits, not the public purse ?"

      Hopefully it will be accompanied by the CEO of G4S, being sent down for the duration of wrongful imprisonment of each person who was so affected.

      Possibly we should order the durations longest first, then the employees of G4s by salary (highest first) and apply the 'sentences' imposed in that order.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So it is unlikely that a first tamper on its own will result in an offender being recalled

        "Hopefully it will be accompanied by the CEO of G4S, being sent down for the duration of wrongful imprisonment of each person who was so affected."

        Don't forget, Capita are part of this too, It's almost too frightening to contemplate. G4S and Capita working together on the same Government contract!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "There is a small chance that some enforcement action may have been taken against an offender or suspect in response to a false report of a tamper,"

    So they don't know. Shocking.

    1. Ian Mason

      They do know because there has been at least one court case fought about it, they just don't want to admit that they knew ages ago (2014) that there was a problem but did nothing about. Ross Anderson (Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University) did an analysis of the tags and presented evidence about them as an expert witness - his analysis of the tags was not favourable to the government's case. See here: https://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2014/12/13/curfew-tags-the-gory-details/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE:his analysis of the tags was not favourable to the government's case.

        After 28/3/2017, the SOP is to now just walk out of the meeting when things you don't like are mentioned.

  4. Ralph B

    Who Else?

    > Yet they have given G4S another contract.

    Are there other companies bidding for this work?

    Could a tag be replaced with a ruggedised, non-removable Apple Watch? This, at least, should already have most of the call-home technology required to keep track of the wearer 24/7. Add a requirement to keep it charged and they should hardly ever be able to leave their homes.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Who Else?

      Could a tag be replaced with a ruggedised, non-removable Apple Watch?

      It's supposed to be rehabilitation, not punishment.

    2. muddysteve

      Re: Who Else?

      "Could a tag be replaced with a ruggedised, non-removable Apple Watch? This, at least, should already have most of the call-home technology required to keep track of the wearer 24/7. Add a requirement to keep it charged and they should hardly ever be able to leave their homes."

      Can you recharge an Apple watch without taking it off?

      1. DJV Silver badge
        Joke

        Can you recharge an Apple watch without taking it off?

        Dunno. Maybe one electrode in the mouth and another where the sun don't shine might do the trick...

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Can you recharge an Apple watch without taking it off?

          "...another where the sun don't shine..."

          Isn't that the place over in Slice?

    3. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

      Re: Who Else?

      I thought you folks were civilized! :P

  5. AMBxx Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Combination of G4S and Capita

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Combination of G4S and Capita

      It could be worse if Serco were involved somewhere...

      Oh, hang on.....

  6. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Old news

    The fact that tags can fail is not news. Ross Andserson at Cambridge University has written articles, papers and appeared as expert witness showing how these things can break in unexpected ways.

    As a starting point: www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2014/12/13/curfew-tags-the-gory-details/

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Surely it's much easier to feel the collar of said miscreant and send him/her back to pokey?

    Especially if they send them back to a G4S run prison. That doesn't seem like a conflict of interest at all...

    As an aside; the comment about how G4S is working with Crapita to increase quality standards is the funniest thing I've heard all day...

  8. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    It could be worse

    A small consolation those tossed into the klink because of this incompetence but Massachusetts will be freeing about 24,000 who convicted of drug offenses because a crime lab tech faked the results. It seems in every country, the criminal injustice system is not about getting truly dangerous people of the street but making the DA look good when they run for higher office.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: It could be worse

      There's no equivalent of elected DA's in the UK, because to British eyes that just seems like a recipe for disaster.

      We'll screw things up in our own unique way thank you very much.

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Odd that

    Every time I see G4S, I think 'gas'

  10. Commswonk Silver badge

    Knee - jerk reaction...

    Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron described the revelation as "a colossal blunder". He said: "People may have been wrongly sent back to prison because of this government's sheer ineptitude. A review is urgently needed to ensure this doesn't happen again.

    While the government might rightly be castigated for outsourcing anything to G4S / Capita / Serco I cannot for the moment see how faulty tags can be laid at the government's door.

    Another review might be urgently needed to ensure that Tim Farron doesn't happen again either.

    I may have to find my tin hat as a matter of urgency...

    1. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Knee - jerk reaction...

      It can be laid at the government's door because outsourcing essential government services to a for-profit private company is something that simply should not be done, ever.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Knee - jerk reaction...

      I cannot for the moment see how faulty tags can be laid at the government's door

      How about the fact that they were told and ignored it ? As mentioned above, Ross Anderson's analysis was quite scathing - not just of the tags themselves, but also of the systems behind them which seemed designed to allow problems to go undetected.

      Once that information was out, and especially the court case he helped win was settled, there should have been a review right there and then. But I suspect everyone involved stuck their fingers in their ears, went "laa laa laa", and tried to pretend it was someone else's problem (if it even existed).

  11. jake Silver badge

    The "Serious Fraud Office"?

    As opposed to the "Not Very Serious Fraud Office"? Or the "Ordinary Fraud Office"?

    Where are the dividing lines between "ordinary fraud", "serious fraud" and "not very serious fraud"? And what are the ramifications for the potential perp?

    More to the point, who decided that the "Serious" bit of "Serious Fraud Office" was important, leading anyone capable of rational thought (hah!) to believe that ordinary fraud wasn't really all that serious?

    Bureaucracy. The mind boggles.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

      Off the top of my head ... the SFO was set up as a result of a growing belief that existing ways of prosecuting fraud only worked if the defendant lacked the resources to just throw lawyers at the problem until it went away. The "serious" was therefore a reference to the Establishment's belief that "untouchable" defendants are a Bad Thing. As such, it refers less to the actual fraud and more to the wealth of the person alleged to have committed it. I have no idea where the boundary lies. Perhaps this post will be sufficiently wrong that someone with a clue will jump in.

      The fact that Private Eye calls it the Serious Farce Office would suggest that it hasn't been entirely successful, but the original idea was probably sound.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

        It's just that I've noticed a propensity for the UK's elected officials to add the word "serious" to all kinds of things ... "The Serious Crime Bill", "The Serious Crime Act", "The Serious Organised Crime Agency" come to mind off the top of my head, there have been others.

        I guess they aren't very serious in most of their efforts, so when they are, in all seriousness, REALLY SERIOUS NOW!, they have to flag it as such? Kinda makes you wonder, no?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

          > It's just that I've noticed a propensity for the UK's elected officials to add the word "serious" to all kinds of things

          "Serious" in those contexts will have a specific legal meaning. I do not know what it is, e.g., in the case of fraud, but you can look it up.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

            "Serious" in those contexts will have a specific legal meaning

            Or not. Like the "serious sexual offence" of being caught short and having to take a leak behind a tree, or the "serious sexual offence" of slapping your stroppy teenage daughter across the face when other methods of bringing the brat into line have failed (by her own admission, she deserved it). Yes, both of these "serious" offences have landed people (note - all men, Treasonous May and Harriot Harpy both considered all men as sex criminals that just hadn't been convicted of something YET) on the sex offenders register.

            It's a common trick to stick serious in the title, so that people will thing "that's OK, if you've got to do something seriously bad to have your life destroyed on the whim of some official". But what they do is not define serious as "only serious things" so that once the law is passed without too much complaint - then it can be used against anyone.

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

              Slapping your daughter across the face is almost always assault (I can think of cases in which someone might argue otherwise) - and the rest of your language suggests you approve! Got a record have you?

              1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

                Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

                By your own admission only "almost" always - so therefore there must be cases where it's not assault. Sometimes a "quick slap" - not assault, just a quick slap - is what's needed to bring a stroppy teenager into line.

                That you suggest otherwise suggests that you've never had to deal with them.

                And besides which - where does the "sexual" come from even if it is deemed to be assault ?

                1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

                  Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

                  Read - almost always

                  And where did you find the word sexual in my posting? Vivid imagination or are you reading another post?

                  And yes, having brought up daughters and son, I am well aware they can be a ain in the butt. Obviously, unlike you I have never had to resort to violence to resolve the problems, maddening though they might be. And you - violence part of your good child rearing fantasy?

                  1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

                    Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

                    The word sexual came in my post you took offence to :

                    or the "serious sexual offence" of slapping your stroppy teenage daughter across the face when other methods of bringing the brat into line have failed

                    Yes, AIUI there is at least one father put on the sex offenders register for that. Perhaps you should try reading things properly before you start taking offence to them.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

      I like to think that there is a Trivial Fraud Office, and that it acts against disorganised crime.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

      Serious fraud is anything that involves fraud against people with lots of money, corporations or the government.

      Normal fraud is against normal people and is usually investigated by low ranking police officers who do a bit of form filling before closing the case as they can't be arsed.

      It's serious because they matter more than you.

      Hope that clears it up.

    4. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The "Serious Fraud Office"?

      The original Fraud Office was set up to counter clown-related fraud, it was renamed the Jocular Fraud Office when the Serious Fraud Office was created.

      The coat with the flower in the buttonhole, and the large shoes, please.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "G4S and Serco are currently under investigation...."

    plus ça change

  13. roytrubshaw
    Meh

    Costs

    "The taxpayer will bear no cost for the faults,"

    It costs around £40K per year to house a prisoner so each unnecessary day costs someone £110, will G4S be paying those costs?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what happens if someone is charged with a crime

    even though their tag says they were at home ?

  15. FidotheFrightful

    re: G4S

    What do you expect from this Higgs Bosun brained Company, who only seem to be intered in easy money-. This is the Company who let Britain down over the security provision for the 2012 Olypics

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: re: G4S

      Dark matter needs to stored somewhere.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019