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Straw extends e-surveillance



Parliamentary reporter

Home Secretary Jack Straw announced a major extension of electronic tagging and computerised supervision in an attempt to crack down on juvenile crime.

Straw used his speech at the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week to pledge a major crackdown on the 2,500 young criminals who commit almost a quarter of juvenile crimes.

To stop youngsters cheating probation officers and other law enforcement officials, Straw's plans rely heavily on the effective implementation of the latest computer technologies.

In future the full range of electronic tagging and surveillance devices would be used to try and stop young offenders committing crimes while on community sentences or probation.

The offenders - aged between 12 and 17 - will be forced to wear electronic tags to ensure they obey court restrictions. Some will have to carry pagers which will "bleep'' them to call into a monitoring centre.

Straw said the officials would use the latest voice recognition software to check the voice of offenders calling probation officers against records held of the person, while the computer will check the number used to make the call to ensure the teenager is where they are meant to be.

Also at the conference, chancellor Gordon Brown announced new tax breaks to lure IT and high-tech companies to inner city areas and deprived parts of Britain. These would be heavily skewed towards high-tech firms in fields such as IT, software, electronics and telecoms companies.

The chancellor told the conference that the additional incentives would help revive "forgotten'' parts of the UK.

Brown said Labour was committed to full employment - and that meant providing jobs throughout the UK.

To attract investment and industry into inner cities and those deprived parts of the UK away from the prosperous South East that had been "long-forgotten'' he proposed tax incentives for firms to set up there.


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