GPS tracking devices have certainly come a long way since they originally hit the market over the course of the last decade. Originally used just for getting turn-by-turn directions between any two points, they quickly proved their worth in a variety of different ways — including to fleet managers, who use them to find new opportunities for energy efficiency and to promote safe driving practices among their workforces.
It seems that even law enforcement officials are getting in on the fun, but not necessarily in the way you might think. The police regularly use GPS trackers to help find stolen cars, but legislation in Victoria is about to take this idea one step further. It was recently announced that a law will soon be introduced that will give the Youth Parole Board of Victoria powers to track some of the area’s most serious young criminal offenders via electronic GPS monitoring bracelets, helping to give officials better insight into their day-to-day habits and to help make sure that they stick to the conditions of their parole.
Criminal GPS Tracking in Victoria: The Situation So Far
According to a new law that is about to be introduced into the Victorian Parliament, the Youth Parole Board will soon have the power to force offenders as young as 16 to not only wear an electronic tracking bracelet at all times, but to also be subjected to mandatory (and likely randomized) drug and alcohol tests on a regular basis.
Jenny Mikakos, the current Families and Children Minister, said that this would officially become the first time that such technology was used on young criminal offenders anywhere in the state in its history. She said that the conditions of their parole are very serious and the GPS trackers would serve as a constant reminder of this fact every day. She also talked about how, statistically speaking, drugs and alcohol are major contributors to repeat offenders. If young offenders begin using these substances, officials will know about it immediately, giving them a chance to step in and do something about it before the problem gets out of hand.
Likewise, if these young criminals aren’t sticking to their curfews, or if they’re going into certain areas where they shouldn’t be, the electronic bracelets will alert the proper authorities immediately and strict action will be taken.
Mikakos said that the new laws will not apply to all young offenders, however, just ones who commit “serious offenses.” Some of the examples she gave of crimes that would fall into this category include but are not limited to aggravated carjacking, aggravated home invasion, and culpable driving that leads to death or dismemberment.
More importantly, if the electronic GPS tracker sends a signal that a young offender has breached his or her current parole conditions for any reason, that parole could be revoked. This is just another in a long line of examples that illustrate how seriously the Victorian government is taking the problem of youth crime across the area.
Opponents to the new legislation say that the government is doing little more than “trying to play catch-up” on a problem that has already gotten out of hand. Georgie Crozier, opposition spokeswoman, even said that these measures are “too little, too late.” She said that the problem of youth crime across Victoria has gotten worse and worse over the last three and a half years in particular and that these measures, while a step in the right direction, do nothing to reverse the damage that has already been done. She says that she’s also seen little evidence to support the idea that this will actually fix the problem moving forward.
One thing is for certain: If youth criminal monitoring by way of GPS tracking devices is successful in Victoria, it’s easy to imagine a situation where this technique is used in more locations all over the world. At that point, you can almost guarantee that privacy advocates will have a lot to say about the subject.