Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Tagging with G4S

Reading the Metro the other day, a newspaper so bad they give it away at the station, I came across an article concerning the 'tagging' of offenders.

Whatever you think about the effectiveness of current 'law and order' policy in the UK, it is hard not to be a little bit concerned by the obvious human rights issues associated with 'tagging'.

As with the various ASBOs on offer to the courts with which to limit the freedom of people who commit 'anti-social behaviour' like begging and street drinking (how would mendicant friars cope in modern day UK?) 'tagging' offers the authorities a half-way house procedure between locking someone up and depriving them of their liberty in penalty for a crime and leaving the offender to walk around in freedom having committed those offenses which contravene British law.

With prisons full to overflowing, one can certainly see the appeal of this half-way house for the authorities, but I personally do not like the half-way house measure. To me it smacks of a Big Brother solution to offenders. Of course, you are free to disagree with me, especially in the light of recent cases in the media highlighting the sexual predators who were left to roam around the country seeking out who they could devour, even, apparently, in the middle of Mass.

There's another reason, however, why I don't like the idea of electronic tagging of offenders, aside from its Orwellian method and its failure to categorise men as free or imprisoned, but somewhere eerily in-between. The reason is that I get a sneaky suspicion that our 'law and order' policies are going the way of our 'defence' policies. In other words, policies get designed in order to satisfy the makers of bombs, armaments and ammunition. There's no point building all these things that blow people up unless Governments around the World are going to use them and blow people up. So, contracts are won and what decides certain policies could be influenced by what people call the 'military industrial complex'.

So it is with those technologies which grow out of what at first becomes a 'terror State' and becomes a 'police State'. Of course, it is vital that 'tagging' be something that happens to the 'nasty types' before it can be used on others who could become enemies of the State in years to come. Every product needs a market and the 'tagging' technology already has one - repeat offenders and unsuspecting criminals as well as 'anti-social behaviour types'.

Perhaps I'm not explaining my thoughts very well. I think what I mean is that G4S make electronic tagging equipment and fit them. They need to win contracts to get this stuff more out there and fitted onto the ankles of repeat offenders so, obviously, they market it to Governments around the World. Our Government buys a load of electronic tagging devices off G4S and gives G4S, who due to their global reach can battle Somali pirates while manning your local Jobcentre, more contracts to rig up convicted men and women to a call centre somewhere where their every movement can be tracked, surveilled, monitored and so that the security firm at the heart of the Olympics can come along in a van or alert police that the Government would like to privatise and sell off to G4S to arrest or check up on the criminal if he breaks his 'curfew' or if he's on an ASBO, has wandered into an area from which he is banned.

As the Metro article makes clear, Governments can get away with doing 1984 on criminals or repeat offenders because everyone wants law and order and for Government to be tough on crime - not many people like criminals. I think we need to be aware, however, that I guess authorities can keep a man monitored long after his 'debt' to society has been repaid and I guess these things could be put on for life depending upon how 'dangerous' the fellow is perceived to be. And, obviously, this could get out of hand. For instance, as attitudes towards pro-lifers harden, it is not impossible to see a kind of criminality or 'public order offence' being attributed to certain groups, or indeed, anyone who the State deems to be 'dangerous'.

Let me know your thoughts. My feeling is that Government policy is just being driven by lucrative contracts awarded to big companies - rather than developing a coherent strategy towards crime reduction. This way, domestic policy becomes something akin to foreign policy.


Andrew said...

Have you seen this piece written on David Lindsay's blog?

'I have been as critical as anyone of Andrew Gilligan, once the man who exposed the Dodgy Dossier, since he went over to the Dark Side. More than anything, it has been his painfully obvious desire to overcompensate that has really proven an irritant. But he has done well in securing the withdrawal of a suspiciously well-funded "Independent" candidate in Lincolnshire, one Mervyn Barrett, a bought and paid for servant of G4S (which, terrifyingly, has already taken over Lincolnshire's custody suites, central control room and firearms licensing department, but which tweeted about a fortnight ago that it had a candidate in every area) and of the Fund for the New American Century, a neoconservative think tank. Now, how about a few exposés of rather more prominent figures with distinctly questionable links to the American neoconservative think tank circuit?'

It seems you were ahead of the game when you spotted something sinister with G4S all those months ago.....

The Bones said...

Andrew, that is genuinely scary!

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