GPS tags: Sindh turns to trackers to fight rising street crime

KARACHI: In a scheme aimed at cracking down on neighbourhood criminals, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah approved a plan suggesting burglars, thieves and robbers released from prison be made to wear GPS tags to track their movements.

The GPS-tracking devices — similar to tags used to keep tabs on sex offenders — detect when a criminal gets too close and trigger an alert to the security agency, which tells him to back off. If the man refuses, police are called.

Such systems are already in use in Spain and the United States and have been piloted in Britain and Australia, but activists and researchers say the technology has limitations.

He took this decision while presiding over a meeting at his office on Wednesday. The meeting was attended by Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Shah’s legal advisor Murtaza Wahab, police chief Mushtaq Maher, among others.

The chief minister said that in his last meeting on the matter of street crime, he had directed the police to start extensive patrolling and take strict action against street criminals.

He also said he had directed the police and administration to start removing drug addicts from the streets and other places. At this, a police official said that from January 1 and February 28, some 143 encounters were made against the street criminals wherein 143 were killed and 147 injured.

He added that 1446 criminals have been arrested.

The chief minister was told that patrolling has been increased in the city and intelligence-based targeted operations are also in progress.

As far as e-tagging of the repeat offenders was concerned, Mahar said 7,500 offenders have been identified who are either on bail or at large.

Wahab said that a draft law for E-tagging of repeat offenders has been prepared and sent for vetting. The chief minister formally approved the proposal and directed his law advisor to expedite its vetting so that it could be discussed and approved in the cabinet.

Giving progress of arranging a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts, Chief Secretary Shah said his office has identified a suitable place at Gulshan-e-Maymar where drug addicts would be rehabilitated.

At this, the chief minister directed the chief secretary to provide all the required facilities at the proposed centre so that police could start lifting the drug addicts from the streets and send them there for rehabilitation.

“The drug addicts are involved in street crime, therefore their removal from the street was most important,” he said.

Discussing the cancellation of bails of repeat criminals and strengthening prosecution, CM Shah directed Wahab and Mahar to take onboard competent lawyers for the prosecution of criminals and cancellation of their bails from the courts.

The CM also directed the police to arrange prosecution through the lawyers in high profile cases.

“I want to put a sizable number of lawyers on a panel and the complainant of the case will have the choice to select any lawyer out of the panel to prosecute his case,” he said.

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