The Kent and Medway VRU have been successful in further funding to support the use of Buddi tags across Kent and Medway. Over the last year, we have engaged over 80 young people up to the age of 25 in this programme county wide. A Buddi tag is a GPS monitoring device which is attached to the ankle of a person and can be done so by anyone who has been trained and not just Police.
A Buddi tag provides young people who are at risk of criminal exploitation to voluntarily wear a tracking device. The tracker enables the wearer's movements to be electronically monitored 24 hours a day. The system can provide up to date information on the wearer's movements and enables a comprehensive tracking and analytical review to take place. The VRU use of a Buddi tag is for those at risk of gang/criminal exploitation or those identified by the VRU as High Harm offenders with a wish to be supported to lower their risk of being exploited or reoffending. Being on a Buddi tag supports partnership working and engagement with the individual, building up better working relationships and diverting individuals away from the risks associated with crime.
A tag can be offered and worn for several reasons, including:
- To provide a “way out” of continued behaviour/concerns and act as an “excuse” by the wearer to remove themselves from situations.
- To make the person “too hot to handle” as potential exploiters will not want any locations monitored.
- To evidence that they are keeping themselves out of trouble and that they are sticking to expectations regarding their behaviour.
Who are these voluntary Buddi Tags available to?
- Individuals up to the age of 25 who are currently at risk of being exploited or trafficked making them “too hot to handle”
- Individuals causing high harm offences with a wish to reduce their offending as part of a multi-agency support framework; Convicted offences or suspected where suitable.
- Where a Buddi tag is considered as an appropriate preventative tool to dissuade others from exploiting the individual.
- This must be with consent; it must be a measure deemed likely to assist in the safeguarding of the individual by either a professional working with that person and agreed by the VRU as viable for this solution.
The rationale for the fitting of a device must evidence:
- The subject has fully agreed to the wearing of the device and signed the Information and Consent Form, if under the age of 18, a parent/guardian must also sign consent.
- The individual is currently at risk of being exploited or trafficked and that a Buddi tag is required as a preventative tool to dissuade others from taking advantage of the subject.
- The individual has come to VRU attention and wishes to have support to prevent further offences. • The effort to manage the individual tag process is proportionate and more effective than other means, including the implementation of other safety measures.
- Wearing the tracker will reduce crime by increasing the likelihood of rehabilitation and desistance from crime.
- Wearing is part of a plan to reduce threat, risk and harm to the individual
Case Study 1
Bridget disclosed she was being exploited by males to carry weapons and drugs to different locations and was a victim of a rape linked to this activity. Together, with partnership agencies, she was moved to another district for her safety. As part of that safety package Bridget was asked if she would consider the support of the Buddi tag to make her “too hot to handle” and use the tag as the excuse to not to do anything for anyone. It gave Bridget a way to tell people not to be with her or use her as the Police were tracking where she was going.
The tag offered an extra layer of support. It was a reminder that she was being supported, that there were expectations of her behaviour that she had to stick too. This provided Bridget with a sense of security, that there was daily help that she could use. The Buddi Tag was on Bridget for 8 weeks and in this time the concerns really dropped. Bridget worked hard with support agencies, all of which met regularly to discuss her on-going plan and mentoring. This was to ensure all agencies were giving the same advice and that we were all aware of any concerns and risk.
6 months on from the Buddi Tag, Bridget was back in Art College, participated in the VRU art competition and now volunteers at the local youth centre. Bridget has built a great support network and this really shows that the Buddi Tag can work as part of this process.
Cast study 2
A 16-year-old called James was known to the Police for multiple offences ranging from theft to Robberies. James was referred for a Buddi tag by his youth offending worker who had exhausted all other avenues open to them to divert James from further offending. James was reluctant at first to engage with the Buddi process but with him being on police bail at this point, his mum was about to kick him out and this seemed to be his “Reachable moment”. He wanted to accept the offer to show everyone that he really meant it this time when he said he was going to think about what he did before he did it from now on. The tag location was able to show he had not been to an area that he was banned from on his bail conditions and it also showed his mother and professionals that he had kept to his Police curfew.
James said the tag encouraged him to have better communication with his mum and support services and the tag reminded him about his bail conditions. The relationship with him mum and support services improved so much that he actively went and sought employment and was offered a job. The workplace appreciated his honesty about using the tag and they offered a pathway to further work once the tag and bail had been removed. This offered him even more motivation to use the tag successfully. His mother got him a gym membership and his spare time was then spent working out in gym, he moved away from his old peer network and sought out new friends at his place of work. The local Police team changed the Police bail conditions to allow a longer working day. The tag was on for a total of 12 weeks with really positive outcomes coming out of it and he continues to do well.
"Young Person: I have been on tag for a couple of weeks now. It has helped me keep out of trouble and stay away from the wrong people and kind of turned things around. Its helped quite a bit
Parent: My son has been on the Buddi Tag for 12 weeks now. Its given him all the support, help and safety he needed to turn things around. I think it's a brilliant idea, definitely recommended."