back to article Tag-a-lag: Chip implants mooted for UK prisoners

The Ministry of Justice is planning to solve the crisis in the UK prison system by fitting prisoners with surgically implanted tracking chips, claims the Independent on Sunday, citing a senior Ministry official. The chips, claims the paper, would be used to keep order in prison and to enforce home curfews. Which appears to be …


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  1. Sillyfellow

    big brother wants you

    here we go again.

    it is the goal of our 'governments & authorities' for everyone to be chipped. like it or not.

    any idea why? i do, and it's not the reasons they are giving.

    this is just one of their steps to push this onto us.

  2. Richard Woollacott

    Prison overcrowding

    The solution is easy - every third offense from parking on a double yellow line onwards attracts capital punishment. This should reduce the re-offending rate a bit. To allow two chances is perhaps generous, but one can not be too tough I suppose.

  3. John Imrie

    NewSpeek Dictionary update

    Citizen you appear to be using an outdated version of the NewSpeek Dictionary. This is double plus un-good. The double plus good form of Ministry of Justice is MiniJuse, not MoJ. Further lapses will result in a visit to room 101 in MiniLuv.


  4. John Imrie

    Escape from New York anyone

    Why does this remind me of the film Escape from New York.

    All the Government has to do is add an explosive charge to the chip and move its location to the back of the neck and then the prison population can be reduced by having the chip detonate if it does not receive an encoded signal every 30 minutes or so.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Review the laws

    2x the average European prison population, 6x more likely to be an offender in 2008 than 1950, perhaps they should have a rethink?

    I notice this pattern:

    A. Problem identified.

    B. Law made to tackle problem.

    C. Infringers of this law more a problem than the original problem.

    D. Tougher penalties to reduce the number of infringers.

    E. Charities weigh in 'we must punish more people for more things so we can get more donations'. Daily mail does it's mock outrage bit.

    F. As the penalties become punitive, offenders become more violent on arrest.

    G. We've long ago lost any link between the offence and the punishment. Now we're fighting the violence associated with the prosecution of the problem rather than the original problem.

    H. Proxy crimes created, now it's a crime for failing to stop others from committing the crime.

    I. Police chiefs unhappy their officers face violence, demand more and tougher laws with less oversight and less judicial process.

    J. We're in a vicious cycle here. We're following the USA where shootouts for the most minor crimes are commonplace.

    Look at the drug laws for an example, 59 deaths in the UK from ecstasy vs 2 in Holland. So we should copy the Dutch model, common sense says if we're trying to fix deaths from ecstasy we should go with the solution that works. At the very least we should discuss it reasonably? Yet a police constable gets sacked for saying ecstasy kills fewer people (59) than aspiring (60 deaths, about 5000 hospital admissions).

    You have to figure the people who take ecstasy don't want to be dead, so why don't they and others take them to hospital at the first sign of problems as they do in Holland? Perhaps because THEY'LL BE ARRESTED FOR IT, demonized, it will affect their job, ruin their lives, yet is a minor drug without side effects in normal doses.

    You know in twenty years, parking in ASDAs family parking places without kids will be a capital offence. The charity 'familyscope' will be screaming out about how mothers with kids can't park 20 metres closer to the entrance, how this endangers their lives by exposing them to more shooting distance, and robotcop should be authorised to shoot these selfish parking people.

    After all persistent offenders are laughing at the law! Conviction rates are only 6%, so we should show the juries videos of criminals laughing at the law in order to encourage them to ignore the evidence and convict these parking 'bandits'. Isn't bandit just another word for terrorist? Daily mail reports 'familyscope' report how people who park badly at supermarkets are more likely to be illegal immigrant child smugglers, so don't have any sympathy for them!

  6. Rob

    They're not even pretending anymore.

    Today I found out that the drunken bastard who broke my bones in an unprovoked attack got a suspended sentence. In other words, he got let off.

    Meanwhile, expect to see law abiding citizens chipped and jailed for thinking the wrong thoughts, having the wrong cuddly toys on display, smoking a cigarette etc. etc.

    Oh, and Gordon says "All your internal organ are belong to us!"

    I truly despair.

  7. Mark
    IT Angle

    Easy to destroy.

    Why bother removing it when you could just blow the capacitor with a decent sized electrical charge (Taser yourself?). Seems like a bloody silly idea all in all.

    NU Liemore's cunning plan to waste a few more billion on IT projects that will fail no doubt.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ the aptly named Sillyfellow

    The government changes on a regular basis and is too inept to manage even a medium sized IT project without fucking it up. I doubt any of them particularly want an id chip in their own arm but if they did, I doubt they'd last very long in government.

  9. Adam Wicketts


    I have an implanted RFID chip already, I use it to open my door, via an RFID reader, but also I use it along with a RFID keyboard emulator dongle thingy as my password for my computer,

    the range of mine is only a few cm off the skin, (they contain exactly the same tech that’s in work passes and door entry key fobs) but there are versions available that have a range of a few meters for instance the ones that are used to auto track stock as it enters and leaves warehouses (which I plan to get sometime this year in the nape of my neck)

    you don't really need satellite tracking, just a bunch of long range readers around the prison, it allows you to track the inmate inside the prison, if there location is being tracked every second maybe that's how they hope to cut problems?

    its going to be damn hard to get away with attacking another inmate if the guards can simply see who was around the person who was attacked at the time of the attack,

    there is a 3rd type available too the has read and write capabilitys, not much good for tracking but still very very usefull

    and just so you know the chips used to read write are whats stored in dogs, cats and cattle as it allows the owner of the animals to have there info stored direct to the chip, the read only versions such as mine and the long range one work by having a unique number that’s 16 digits long which it just repeats over and over as long as the reader is on it

    its going to be damn hard to get away with attacking another inmate if the guards

  10. Sub-Vulture II


    That's a giant bag of shit, I am sorry. I'm sure he'll get his in the end.

    I have to disagree on the organs thing, though, off-topic as it may be. As long as there's an opt-out, for anyone who reeeeally has a problem with saving the lives of others, then it's the only righteous thing to do. Thousands of people are living miserable uncertain lives on endless transplant lists while perfectly viable organs are being burnt to bits. It's the most sensible thing Gordon's said since he got into office, I'd say.

    Oh, and Anon Coward, I generally concur. It would really help if they stopped sticking the vast majority of drug offenders in chokey, wouldn't it?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The obvious solution

    The obvious solution that AC mentioned, to reduce the prison population by decriminalising drugs, will never happen. Apart from the government's general disinclination to let go of its own power, the alcohol and tobacco lobby would never have swallowed the smoking ban without a guarantee that legalised weed et al wouldn't be diluting their markets for the next few years.

  12. Mark

    Plenty of room in the jails

    for those people who are defying the government. It's the ones that are defying the public they don't have room for.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The Running Man

    What they need are those exploding neck bracelets that were wrapped around the necks of the convicts in "The Running Man".

    If the naughty convict (and let's face, in ten years, ordinary citizen) dares to step outside a designated zone: KA-BOOOOM [or whatever Batman-esque sound effect fits best].

    Because we have nothing to hide and nothing to fear, we can trust our government to track us wherever we go in full knowledge that they will never abuse their power, or make a mistake (like his Tony-ness and Browny would ever make a mistake!) - perish the thought... Whoops; Thought Crime... KA-BOOOOM...

  14. Anonymous Coward

    @ AC (Posted Monday 14th January 2008 14:33 GMT)

    - "tobacco lobby would never have swallowed the smoking ban without a guarantee that legalised weed et al wouldn't be diluting their markets for the next few years"

    I don't think that's right at all, who do you think will be in best position to sell the stuff if/when it becomes legal?

    unless of course your only defining it becoming legal as medication?

  15. Michael

    @ Escape from new york

    Heard they were going to build it on rockall.

    Just wondering ... is the RFID tag to stop them going into the supermarkets?????

  16. Tawakalna

    so where is the line drawn?

    anyone who goes to gaol? including remand prisoners, who may well be found not guilty or the charges dropped? can they then have their Number of the Beast RFID chips removed? Or is it enough to have been nicked to get RFID'd? in which case watch out motorists, you'll end up with a chip implanted for speeding (as well as the ones they're going to secretly put in your cars soon)

    the answer is of course to RFID EVERYONE! :)

    pohh, s*d Britian, bl**dy fascist state. I'm going to build a HERF gun and fry every fascist snooping device that I can.

  17. John H Woods Silver badge

    can GPS be confused?

    Just thinking ... aren't GPS signals are so weak that it is would be easy to create a transmitter which is capable of convincing any GPS receiver within a few meteres that it is located somewhere it isn't?

    Anybody know?

  18. Paul Buxton

    Another Government IT Project - oh dear...

    Prepare for the headlines when this project, just like all the others, spirals out of scope, out of budget and out of control.

    Ministers who propose IT Projects should be hung, drawn and quartered as standard policy. Better still, make them personally liable for the project and provide them with a pistol and one bullet for when it goes titsup (instead of the healthy pension they currently get). It should have the desired effect of stopping these James Blunt's* from spouting bollocks.

    @Anonymous Coward - Review the Laws

    I couldn't agree more - especially to this bit:

    "We've long ago lost any link between the offence and the punishment. Now we're fighting the violence associated with the prosecution of the problem rather than the original problem."

    - you saved me the effort of another long rant, thank you.

    * apologies to James Blunt but you should really be seeking redress from your parents for supplying you with a name that translates so readily into Cockney rhyming.

  19. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: can GPS be confused?

    Yes, can be done, and has been demonstrated, I think.

  20. Dr. E. Amweaver
    Jobs Horns

    Intestinate! Intestinate!

    Better movie example was "Fortress" (with prisoners controlled by stomach-based agonizers, neutron cannons, a godawful script and nasty scowling from Kurtwood Smith).

    Sounds like the sort of thing lily-livered liberals would go for over the exploding collars, anyway.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    If a high enough percentage of your population....

    is in jail that the remaining percent of the population can't afford to keep them there, then maybe there is a problem with your laws or sentancing.

  22. mh.
    Thumb Down


    I don't see anything that suggests the chips will be removed once the con has served their sentence, or if the conviction is quashed on appeal. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act allows petty crimes to be treated as "spent" after a certain period, but having a chip permanently implanted seems more like a return to the medieval practice of branding people for minor offences, even if they turn out to be innocent.

  23. paul

    missed opportunity

    the title could so easily have been:

    tag a laggers ding dong

    /apt get coat

  24. Eugene Goodrich

    Shootouts in the USA

    >>>[Great Britain is] following the USA where shootouts for the most minor crimes are commonplace.<<<

    Citation needed.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    A few thoughts...

    It's obvious the tagging could never work, but while people in positions of power remain technically ignorant they'll continue to think it will.


    Although all sorts of people commit all sorts of crimes, it could be argued that the majority of crimes that are commonly committed and considered relatively serious (theft/assault etc.) are committed by those who are either a) addicted to drugs of some sort or b) from a social group that doesn't consider the criminal behaviour to be a bad thing.

    The former is a difficult thing to sort. Legalising drugs doesn't really help. One possible solution would be compulsory treatment for addicts & ensuring that prisons are drug free to prevent the problem repeating. (Latter should be doable in a closed environment!). Free drugs might prevent the criminality but all you'd do is end up with a social problem & cost instead.

    The latter is surely fixable. Most people choose not to commit crimes because of social pressure, and because they have things they don't want to lose like jobs and houses. Remove the social pressure, and having nothing much to lose surely makes you more likely to give into temptation? How to fix this is difficult, I would guess the only real possibility is to introduce consequences of some sort e.g. given direct aid instead of cash benefits, communal accommodation, maybe even group punishment ('cos if other get consequences, they stop you doing bad things in the first place!).

    Not that the above is workable, but the current situation doesn't exactly work, and being nice & giving a slap on the wrist doesn't look like it'd work either.

    Ultimately only consequences alter behaviour. In the absence of consequences, people will do whatever they feel like.

    Re: the Ecstasy comment earlier; having taken a drug isn't an issue, and you won't get arrested for it - only for possession. So it seems unlikely that anyone needing treatment would avoid it because of that, and in any case if they need treatment they may not be in a position to make the choice. The differing statistics are probably not down to local attitude/enforcement but more likely due to relative quality of the product in the market, the level of consumption, and quite possibly due to user knowledge and levels of treatment in the case of problems. The deaths statistic is also pretty worthless in itself (especially relative to aspirin) as many people don't die, but just end up damaged. There are facilities local to me filled with residents who did themselves permanent & serious harm but didn't actually die.


    Re: 'assume consent' organ donation; I'm not so sure the problem is that you donate your organs after you die, rather that you could end up dead because you'd be useful as a donor!

    Consider that a decision may be made for treatment to be modified or withdrawn to make you a better donor, even if this has negative consequences for you.

    Consider that they don't tend to salvage bits in the morgue, rather you're harvested when still nice & warm, and preferably still breathing.

    Also consider the likely impact of hospitals being set targets for obtaining 'donated' organs - what exactly would be the most likely thing for people to do to hit their targets given that providing the best treatment for individual patients no longer seems to be a particular priority?

    Personally I think it would be better to encourage the current voluntary system to be adopted by more people than to change the fundamental concept.

    An advertising campaign could be useful, as could some sort of sign up campaign e.g in supermarkets.

    We could consider the impact on the likelihood of organs being donated if things were modified so that tax-free cash was given to the estate of the donor, instead of the current situation of all sorts of people benefiting financially except the initial suppliers! Though of course this gives relatives an incentive to see you dead (on top of the rest of your estate).

  26. Ian


    "True evil starts when you start treating people as things." - Granny Weatherwax

    It's coming to something when a fictional, comic character is an order of magnitude clearer sighted in moral matters than a Home Office minister. However, it comes as no surprise.

    [My icon of choice for this, had it been available, would have been a minister of state burning in Hell.]

  27. Michael

    Re: Live organ transplants

    Can we have your liver then?

  28. heystoopid

    Easy fix

    Easy fix just send all the prisoners to the last outpost of the UK Military in the Falkland Islands and it solves all problems at the same time !

    1/ empties the overcrowded prisons for the next batch of government declared terrorists

    2/ they can't flee to mainland as it is a remote set of islands and those few that do succeed in fleeing to the western mainland the enrage wowsers from Argentina who covet these islands will simply fly them back to the island as unwanted guest workers. The Chileans with long memories of whom supported the very evil self elected General Pinochet would do like wise as well !

    3/ who cares anyway for out of sight is out of mind !

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Make an example of a few people.

    There is a problem in the UK in that there are a small but significant number of people who seem to have formed the impression that they will not be held responsible for their misdeeds, however foul. The more it is seen to happen, the more people will be encouraged to try to get away with it.

    Consequently, we need a few high profle cases where crimes large and small are actually seen to have consequences which might actually potentiall deter other people.

    It's easiest to start with a small number of cases, so start high profile. The charges to begin with are that the accused:

    1. failed to resign after blatantly misrepresenting the truth to Parliament and people

    2. acted in a way which placed the interests of a foreign country above the interests of the British people

    3. threatened the safety of Britain and the world with a foreign policy which placed Britons at risk wherever in the world they were

    4. having stated that "global warming is the greatest threat to the British Isles", chose to do nothing about it

    5. threatened the safety of Britain and the world for generations to come by pre-judging the Energy Policy Review and committing to nuclear power regardless of the submissions to the consultation process

    6. threatened the safety of the personal information of millions of British citizens by encouraging a culture which blatantly ignored laws, procedures, and common sense.


    Yes, let's impeach Blair.If no one is going to be seen to be held accountable for this kind of criminal behaviour on a massive scale, why should anyone expect teenage ASBO fodder to have anything to worry about, when it's clear to see that bad behaviour has no bad consequences?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Tally Ho !!!

    Tags would give the buck-teeth, inbred, tweed-wearing country-set something to chase other than poor old Mr Fox!

    Tally Ho chaps, I spot a running absconder at 300 yards, release the dogs!

    [sound of horn blowing]

    Icon: Blood-sport !!

  31. Colin Wilson

    No-one mentioned...

    ...the recent report that linked the higher incidence of cancer with implants in pets.

  32. Terry Blay
    Dead Vulture

    Easy solution:

    Anyone seen 'Wedlock'?

    Embed the RFID tags in an exploding collar. Weld to perp and tell them not to leave home, or try to remove collar.

    Would they dare? I bet not. Most of 'em deserve nothing less.

    > Coat

  33. HKmk23

    Why all this high tech?

    A devils island (St Helena?) solution.

    No death penalties.

    No escape.

    The found not guilty can be recompensed...(with the death penalty it's no good digging them up is it/)

    Reduces the housing/NHS/ problem.

    It's a win win

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