back to article Offender tagging beaten by skyscrapers

The government may have to postpone the roll out of satellite tracking of offenders after a study uncovered serious technology flaws. A study commissioned by the Ministry of Justice reveals that the signal could be lost and people could remove their ankle tags and leave them behind. The report (pdf) says that in ideal …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The government needs to put explosives in the lock mechanism of the ankle tags so that the offenders won't be tempted into removing them.

  2. A J Stiles

    For Crying Out Loud

    Instead of conducting all these useless tech trials (which a brief thought experiment would show, much more cheaply, to be unworkable), why don't the government just spend the money putting more bobbies on the front line?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just given them a mobile phone

    Just give them a mobile phone.

    The nearest cells and the strength of the signals are enough data to triangulate the position of the phone.

    You could give them a call every now and again to make sure their phones are with them. Or just remotely activate the phones microphone to listen in (which you can do when the phone is switched off too).

    While we're at it, what about all those people who have yet to commit a crime, the citizens-formerly-known-as-innocent.

    We already keep the location data of everyone just in case they in commit a crime sometime in future, so why not also have a quick listen in every now and again just in case they're planning something. You could record all their conversations to protect their freedoms.

    If they're not doing anything wrong then they've got nothing to hide then right? Naturally blocking the recording of a cellphone conversation would be made a crime, since if you have something to hide it follows you must be doing something wrong.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £42 / day

    Nice work if you can get it.

  5. Andy S

    Re: explosives

    If you're going to go to the trouble of putting explosives into the tags, you might as well go the whole hog and do Running Man style collars, that will stop people tampering with them!

    I've always wondered why tags are a nice discreet ankle bracet? Why not something obvious to all, make the offenders feel a sense of shame to be wearing them.

  6. Neil

    Funny if it wasn't true...

    Since when is the ability to take something off a "technical flaw"?

    And anybody with about a minute's experience with GPS could've told you that:

    a) GPS don't work indoors

    b) The Urban Canyoning (multi-path error) effect is well known.

    c) £42 a day is a ridiculous price to pay for such a thing.

    d) It's incredlbly obvious to everyone in the entire universe that the easiest thing to do is to go into a nice big forest where there's sod all GPS coverage, remove the bracelet and then exit from some random place to become a free man.

    Stay tuned for our breaking news: Ankle braclets can be disabled by the simple action of smashing them to shit with a hammer.

  7. Waggers

    Offenders beaten by skyscrapers

    Isn't this the solution - build some high-rise jails?

  8. Steve


    Surely you can just get some wire mesh from B&Q, make yourself a faraday cage, wander off to some random location and sit in it whilst you remove the tag?


  9. I.M.Fantom

    Take the battery out!

    It will disable the cell phone even when off.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For crying out loud?

    "Instead of conducting all these useless tech trials (which a brief thought experiment would show, much more cheaply, to be unworkable), why don't the government just spend the money putting more bobbies on the front line?"

    How does "putting more bobbies on the front line" have anything to do with this. There are plenty of bobbies on the front line, which is exactly why arrests have gone up, alongside conviction rates and accompanied by decreasing crime and INCREASING prison populations. This is why the government is resorting to trials of "alternative" sentencing. However flawed they may be, try not to sound like a tabloid.

    I'd be interested in finding out what a "brief thought experiment" is... psychic prisoner control? I must say I enjoyed the other response by the reader who mentioned exploding ankle bracelets once they went out of range. Reminds me of the movie "Fortress" starring the defunct Christopher Lambert where prisoners were attached to an explosive device which exploded if they went out of a certain boundary. Now that would make them keep curfew and lower the prisoner population!

  11. Jeremy


    ...what do you expect to happen when you let civil servants think of a crowd-pleasing use for a system originally designed to track tanks and ICBMs.

    And lets not forget who owns the GPS satellites. Is it really such a good idea to implement an offender tracking scheme based on a system that America could, even if only theoretically, switch off whenever they please? Of course it's not but like that's gonna stop 'em trying...

  12. Morely Dotes

    Silly buggers: You're coddling criminals

    Don't put them in prison, don't tag them, don't bother with them. Strip them naked, give them clothing of the sort typically worn in rural Mongolia, and then fly over to Mongolia and leave them there. No money, no ID, nothing but the clothes on their backs.

    And if you're really miffed at them, call up the Chinese embassy (anonymously, of course) and give them a description of a British (or Russian) spy you've heard of who just entered Mongolia illegally.

    Who knows? In 200 years, Mongolia may be a strong British ally. It worked for Australia!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's easy....

    Siberian gulags guarded by dogs with big pointy teeth!

    If they don't like it, make 'em walk back home.....

  14. Fred

    Easier to keep track of innocent people?

    Why is it that the UK authorities have no problems in tracking innocent people (mobile location data, traffic cameras, CCTV cameras, data retention by communications service providers, tracking of oyster cards, et cetera ad infinitum), yet find it almost impossible to keep track of people that they KNOW are guilty, from to tagged criminals to foreign paedophiles?

    Perhaps the Justice Ministry should really crack down on crime and treat these people as harshly as they would if they were innocent.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DNS poisoning?

    Hi there El Reg, your interwebs might not be working right. I tried to visit your legendary "Tech News" site today but instead arrived at some kind of Fascist Forum full of creepo's wanting to deport people and/or blow them up. Just to give you the heads up!

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