The State Government has revealed that GPS devices attached to ankle bracelets are now tracking the movements of 16 WA sex offenders to monitor their release back into the community.
The offenders have been fitted with the devices under court order as a condition of their prison release.
The Department of Corrective Services uses the new equipment to track their movements from the Midland office, on Clayton Street, and, if an alert is raised, notifies police and asks them to assist.
Each offender has separate criteria for setting off an alert.
For example, paedophiles are generally not allowed near schools or other areas involving children.
Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis has personally tried the device to test the tracking system and the bracelet’s comfort level.
Mr Francis said WA’s released sex offenders would be tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the Midland monitoring unit.
The Government has allocated $6 million over four years for the devices, which have been supplied by technology giant 3M.
New State laws came into effect in February permitting GPS tracking of sex offenders classified under the Dangerous Sex Offenders Act.
The monitoring system first went live late last month.
There are 13 offenders being tracked in the Perth metropolitan area and three in regional WA.
‘The technology regularly sends the offender’s location to the monitoring centre and an alarm is activated if they enter an exclusion zone or try to tamper with the device,’ Mr Francis said. ‘Through improved responses to breaches of release conditions, such as movement restrictions and exclusion zones, we offer better protection to the community,’ he said.
The State Government is also assessing the tracking technology for possible use with serial arsonists and domestic violence offenders, according to Director of Adult Community Corrections Jim Hosie.
‘The tracking is not a magic fix but part of our case management of dangerous offenders in the community,’ Mr Hosie said.
He said the system worked in tandem with urine and drug testing, curfews and on-going communication to help keep the community safe.
‘The device can show us where an offender is, not what they are doing,’ he said .
There is a mandatory 12-month sentence for anyone who destroys or damages monitoring equipment, which is tamper and water proof.