SIX police forces across England and Wales have been selected for a new Ministry of Justice pilot scheme that sees ‘prolific burglars, thieves and robbers’ made to wear GPS tags to track their movements by GPS satellites 24 hours a day for up to 12 months.

Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Humberside and West Midlands police are all taking part in what is being described as a ‘world first scheme to crack down on neighbourhood criminals.’

Under new rules, burglars, robbers and thieves that have served a prison sentence of a year or more will be automatically fitted with a tag on release.

Gwent Police, in conjunction with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, are the first force in Wales to launch this new pilot to combat burglars and repeat offenders who ’cause devastation and upset across our communities.’

Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse MP said: “Being burgled or robbed is devastating and I understand how frustrating it is when the perpetrators can’t be caught, both for the public and the police.

“Tagging these prolific offenders so we know where they are 24 hours a day should be powerful persuasion to change their ways and will help police find and charge them if they don’t. It’s another tool helping probation staff to cut crime and keep the public safe.”

Deputy Chief Constable of Gwent Police, Amanda Blakeman said: “The impact of being burgled or robbed stretches further than the initial crime, it comes with emotional upset and pain.

“It is a fact that 51% of those convicted of theft, including burglary, and 29% of those convicted of robbery reoffend within a year of their release. This pilot will act as a deterrent to those people who use this type of crime as a way of life,  and will also allow officers to take swift action.

“We are committed to protecting and reassuring all our communities, by working with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service we can reduce crime and stop criminals benefiting from crime.”

The new targeted approach to tagging prolific offenders will allow officers to submit any burglaries, thefts or robberies they are investigating to a dedicated unit overseen by HM Prison and Probation Service. Trained staff will then be able to check the location history of those on tags against the details of the crime, allowing police to either rule out or investigate suspects further.

The scheme will launch on April 12 and it is estimated 250 offenders will be tagged nationally in the first six months.