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Tracking devices compete to win offender monitoring contract

by David Shi •
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Known sex offenders living amongst the Queensland community will soon be monitored using GPS tracking technology, and the state government is asking vendors to participate in an official trial to select the tracking devices to be used.

As was announced in June 2011, Queensland’s Department of Community Safety (DCS) will phase out the existing radio frequency-equipped anklets in favour of a more advanced GPS-tracking system under the Dangerous Prisoner (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003, designed to protect the community from serious sexual offenders.

The DCS has recently released an expression of interest (EOI), inviting interested parties to participate in an upcoming trial of the scheme. From 8-15 August, volunteers from the DCS will begin trailing devices submitted by applicants by mimicking the actions and movements that the offenders may perform on a daily basis, including abiding by curfews and employment restrictions.

More challenging environments such as the beach, gym and low-reception areas like mountain ranges and tunnels will be visited as part of the trial.  Accidental damage and deliberate tampering of the devices will also be factors considered by the DCS.

The monitoring program is expected to cost $13.7 million over the next four years as outlined in the 2011-12 Queensland State budget. All submitted devices and related technologies must be compatible with Australia’s Global System for Mobile (GSM) network in order to be considered for final deliberation.

 The successful applicant will be chosen by the DCS on the basis of performance in both conventional and extreme conditions.

Of the 79 known sex offenders living within the Queensland community, 70 will be monitored using the GPS tracking system. The Queensland Government expects that all of the 70 offenders will be fitted with the new GPS tracking devices by the first half of 2012. Another 16 imprisoned sex offenders who qualify for release over the next 12 months may also fitted with the devices.

"These people are the worst of the worst. These are the people that our courts determine cannot be released back into the community without strict supervision," said the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

The Premier also said the State Government’s desire to keep up with the latest technology was another factor behind the implementation of the new tracking system.

"This type of monitoring forms the backbone of Queensland's sex offender supervision regime," said Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts, adding that the new system will not replace existing safeguards but rather enhance community safety measures.

"If they do not comply with the terms of their supervision order, swift action is taken by corrective services personnel, including returning to jail," he said.

Applications for the trial will close on 2 pm 15 July 2011.


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