THE police commissioner for Thames Valley blasted the Ministry of Justice after it emerged its electronic tagging programme is running years behind schedule due a catalogue of failings.

Anthony Stansfeld told the Oxford Mail the MoJ had ‘completely made a mess’ of the its programme and called on the Government department to set up a ‘consistent’ GPS tag system for criminals to stop reoffending and save police forces cash.

His comments came after an assessment by the National Audit Office painted a chaotic picture of the MoJ’s handling of the electronic monitoring project, which running at least five years behind schedule having been first launched in 2011.

The spending watchdog found that the MoJ failed to achieve value for money in its management of the scheme, which will have cost an estimated £130 million by 2024-25. The service itself is expected to cost £470 million between 2017-18 and 2024-25.

Mr Stansfeld, a seasoned supporter for tagging ex-cons, said it was an issue he had brought up with the pervious policing minister Brandon Lewis and called for the law to be changed to enable more convicts to be tagged.

The police and crime commissioner added: “It was a perfectly good system that had worked for three or four years. They have completely made a mess of it.

“They have spent all that money and have got nothing to show for it. We still have not got a consistent system in place.”

Mr Stansfeld said the legislation should be changed to make it was ‘requirement for early released prisoners’ rather than just having the GPS tracking on volunteer prisoners.

He added: “We need a system nationally. It would save huge amounts of money and stop a lot of people going back to prison. It would also stop wasting police time hugely.

“Yes, the cost for the GPS tagging is not cheap, but’s a lot cheaper than putting people back in prison.”

Mr Stansfeld said people who have committed serious sexual crimes, violent or been in organised gangs should be tagged on release, to allow the police to track their movements.

He added: “It’s up to the Minister of Justice to sort it out. I have already mentioned it to the former police minister.”

Since 1999, the Government has used contracted-out electronic monitoring, or ‘tagging’, services for the sentencing and supervision of offenders.

The regime is used by police, courts or probation services to monitor offenders’ locations and compliance with home curfews.

The MoJ launched a programme six years ago to develop a new ‘world-leading’ ankle tag that combined radio frequency and GPS technology. It set out to procure the service using a new ‘tower’ delivery model, which incorporated contracts with four separate suppliers who would provide four different elements of the service, with their work pulled together by a contracted integrator.

The NAO found the Ministry did not do enough to establish the case for location monitoring using GPS.

There is still limited evidence on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring, the report said, with most experience of location monitoring based on small numbers of volunteers rather than mainstream offenders.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO said the MoJ had learnt ‘costly lessons’ from its failings but significant ‘risks still remain’. A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the department was now in a ‘strong position’ to provide better value for money for the taxpayer.”