An electronic tracking device
An electronic tracking device

Parolees escape from ‘tamper-proof’ GPS devices

UP TO three prison parolees a month are escaping from tamper-proof GPS tracking devices used to monitor some of the state's most dangerous criminals.

GPS trackers were rolled out in 2011 for the most dangerous sex offenders, but the program has since been expanded to include prison parolees. Picture: Department of Correctional Services.
GPS trackers were rolled out in 2011 for the most dangerous sex offenders, but the program has since been expanded to include prison parolees. Picture: Department of Correctional Services.

The figures were revealed in a response to a Question on Notice tabled in state parliament, leading the Opposition to accuse the Government of failing to keep the community safe.

GPS trackers were rolled out in 2011 for the most dangerous sex offenders, but the program has since been expanded to include prison parolees.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said, in the document, that between June 2017 and last month, 51 offenders had been charged with removing their tracking devices.

He said the devices had been fitted to 1121 parolees in that period, with crimes originally committed by offenders including murder, sexual offences and armed robbery.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the Government needed to ensure that offenders could not remove trackers.

 

Between June 2017 and last month, 51 offenders had been charged with removing their tracking devices.
Between June 2017 and last month, 51 offenders had been charged with removing their tracking devices.

"This is absolutely shocking. Queenslanders will be incensed to know that convicted murderers and rapists are walking the streets freely after cutting off their GPS trackers," she said.

"These trackers are supposed to be tamper-proof, but it is clear they are not."

A Corrective Services spokeswoman said the GPS straps were "very robust" but had to be designed to break away in an emergency such as being caught in machinery.

"They are tamper-resistant in that it requires a considerable amount of deliberate force to remove the device and they have a number of security features which alert if the strap is cut or tampered with," she said.

"These alerts are responded, 24-hours a day, seven-days a week in real time by community corrections officers, and, if there is a public safety risk, by police."

The spokeswoman could not say how long it took authorities to find each escaped offender, but the parole board could issue a warrant for their arrest if required.

"We have no visibility of how long it takes police to locate and arrest an offender," she said.

She was also unable to confirm if any further offences had been committed after a GPS tracker had been removed.

"Tampering with a GPS can be a signal the offender is planning to breach their supervision order or unlawful behaviour, which is why we respond in real time to tamper alerts and apply for warrants where the parolee cannot be located or supervised," she said.