Thursday, 7 Dec 2023

Hundreds of foreign criminals ditch electronic tags to go on the run

Hundreds of foreign criminals ditch electronic tags to go on the run as figures reveal one in 10 who are supposed to be monitored by GPS have absconded

Hundreds of foreign criminals are ditching electronic tags to go on the run.

Around one in ten foreign national offenders who are supposed to be monitored by GPS has absconded.

Some 406 tagged criminals have vanished since 2021 when then-home secretary Priti Patel made the devices a condition of release, Home Office data shows.

The figures, obtained under Freedom of Information requests, show there are currently 316 offenders not wearing a tag when they should have one on at all times.

That is a 10 per cent rise on the number last June, when 289 immigrants were found to be not wearing their tag despite a ‘live order’.

Around one in ten foreign national offenders who are supposed to be monitored by GPS has absconded (file image)

It has raised concerns about the monitoring of dangerous offenders. Earlier this year, figures revealed hundreds of wanted foreign criminals, including rapists and killers, are roaming the streets after the number who have absconded rose six-fold in the last decade.

When the scheme was launched in August 2021, officials hoped GPS surveillance would ease pressures on prisons and allow criminals and illegal migrants to be held securely in the community.

…and cut them off with scissors 

Albanian criminals and migrants are sharing videos boasting about how easy it is to remove ankle tags with just a pair of kitchen scissors.

Offenders have filmed themselves cutting off the plastic trackers, with a comment on one social media clip asking: ‘If I cut mine off and changed my address, would that work or am I still in trouble?’

The suspect replies: ‘When you cut it off, don’t go back home lol [laugh out loud].’

One TikTok user called ‘LocalAlbo’ shared a clip of himself cutting through his tag. When the alleged offender is asked, ‘Where are the police?’ He replies: ‘In the police station, lol. I took it off myself.’

In another, a suspect said the punishment of 28 days in jail was ‘nothing’.

More than 4,000 foreign national offenders have been tagged with the scheme. But the number of bail breaches suggests many are not complying with conditions.

Since June 2022, there have been 52,445 breaches of immigration bail detected by tag – for example, by breaking a curfew. The FoI does not say whether this figure includes other types of offenders.

Anyone removing or breaching their tag faces jail or deportation.

A number of videos on TikTok show Albanian criminals snipping off the tags. One Albanian charged with growing 800 cannabis plants at an illegal farm boasted on social media how easy it was to cut off his tag with kitchen scissors. The shameless suspect said: ‘So, I am a criminal… f*** it.’

Last year Albanians accounted for 28 per cent of all tagged foreign national offenders, according to data obtained by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. As of March 2022, there were 465 Albanian criminals with tags, more than four times the 106 Jamaicans and 75 Poles being monitored.

There are some legitimate reasons why a criminal may not be wearing a tag, including awaiting replacement of faulty equipment.

Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tougher border controls, said: ‘This is seriously concerning, not least because it is not a new development. Why do our law enforcers continue to tag and bail people who are only too ready to remove tags and disappear into the criminal undergrowth?’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Decisions to tag people on immigration bail are made on a case-by-basis, which take into consideration the individual’s mental and physical health, and every decision to tag someone is reviewed after three months.’

Officials said they undertake a range of measures to trace and locate criminals who abscond.

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