GPS-tracking bracelets will be fitted to up to 100 people in London thought “likely to reoffend.”

The bracelets will track individuals’ movements, automatically verify them against places where crime has been reported, and share any matches with police.

Beginning on 18th February, the one-year pilot will apply to individuals convicted of knife-related crimes — such as aggravated burglary, grievous bodily harm, wounding, or robbery — in London’s four worst-affected boroughs.

Electronic tagging is used by countries like South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and the U.S. From monitoring the movement of those on bail or parole to analysing drug and alcohol levels in sweat, the use of ankle bracelets worldwide has grown.

In the UK alone, supervision of offenders post-release rose by 10% following the 2015 Offender Rehabilitation Act, while court orders saw a “significant increase” in electronic monitoring. But despite rapid judiciary adoption, research into electronic monitoring’s effectiveness is lacking — and what research does exist is obsolete, as a 2015 report by Reform UK underlines.

The expected cost of running monitoring services nationally between 2017-2025 is £470 million. Furthermore, combining geolocation technology with real-time crime data raises both data privacy and racial profiling concerns.

Do these bracelets represent an intrusion into privacy? Which level of post-release monitoring constitutes reasonable prevention, and which infringes on freedom?

Metropolitan Police records of knife crime in London over the last ten years.