New hi-tech tagging system for offenders

  • Public safety: the Government is looking to improve the tagging process (File photograph)
  • Kathy Lynn Simmons (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A new hi-tech electronic tagging system to keep track of offenders and send instant alerts when they break rules is to be introduced.

The Government is looking at ways to develop its rehabilitation programmes for criminals and has asked proposals for a state-of-the-art network.

A request for proposal from the Ministry of Legal Affairs said the Government planned to bring in a system that uses GPS tracking and wanted at least 50 individual devices.

The RFP said: “The Government of Bermuda is seeking to expand and maintain its programmes to monitor, manage and change behaviours in offenders, with the protection of the community as the primary consideration.

“Electronic monitoring involves having an electronic bracelet — device — attached to an offender deemed to be in need of intensive monitoring and/or having restrictions placed on their movements.

“As they remain in the community, with mechanisms to promote behaviour change and minimise risks to the community, the Government is seeking a reliable partnership with a proponent who will effectively and efficiently manage, maintain and monitor this programme utilising state-of-the-art equipment and services.”

The document, published online, told suppliers they were expected to provide costs for a complete system that used existing technology, as well as prices for optional extras.

The RFP added: “Although cost is a significant consideration, product reliability and performance, customer service and support, staff knowledge and qualifications and company financial stability are also critical to the selection of the preferred proponent for the proposed system.”

The ministry’s existing electronic monitoring programme uses GPS or cellular tracking devices to keep tabs 24 hours a day on people who are on parole or bail.

Potential suppliers of the new equipment were told it must be “highly reliable in a wide range of climatic conditions and environments”.

Specifications included that the GPS monitoring devices should be able to “pinpoint the location of any client” and feed back data “at least once every 15 minutes when the offender is compliant and immediately when the offender commits a violation”.

The monitoring devices are expected to have at least 36 hours of battery life and work in both fresh and salt water up to three metres deep.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, told the Senate last July that the “overall design and data” of the tagging system was under review to see how it could be improved.

Options included devices that could detect alcohol levels in sweat, home detention devices and units that could be used in domestic violence situations.

Ms Simmons, who is also the Minister of Legal Affairs, added that 26 devices were in use at the time and the programme was budgeted at $250,000 a year.

A ministry spokeswoman said the average daily use was higher.

She explained last week: “We can confirm that on most occasions there are 30 units in active use.

“The final determination on the number of units for the upcoming fiscal year will be made based on the vendor selection from the RFP process.”

The Royal Gazette asked for further information about what was expected from the new contract, including the predicted cost and whether developments such as the detection of alcohol would be included.

But the ministry declined to comment because the RFP had been issued and “some of the questions may put potential vendors at an advantage”.

The RFP included the opportunity for suppliers to provide details about additional devices or services, such as alcohol monitoring and the associated costs.

Anyone interested has until noon on February 28 to submit a proposal.