When the Police in Maryland, U.S, suspected a nightclub owner of running a major drug dealing operation, they were not unsurprisingly, rather keen to find out where he went every day, and who he was meeting. It is an expensive operation, to track an individual 24 hours a day, requiring many expensive personnel. They cut the cost by attaching a GPS tracker to his car. It enabled them to know where he, or at least his car, was at any given point of the day. Hurrah! No more losing the suspect at traffic lights!
Taking this action enabled the law enforcement forces to find 100 kilograms of cocaine and $1 million in cash when they finally raided a property that he visited. Was that a a good result? Lawyers were outraged; it violated ‘his reasonable expectation of privacy’ and should only have been permissible with the sanction of a judge, in the same way as a search of his house would have done, not merely on the whim of the police force or in an effort to save money. The man’s conviction for drug dealing was overturned, on the grounds that the information had been obtained illegally.
Down in deepest Surrey, U.K, police are also preparing to use GPS trackers without the sanction of a judge. To track sex offenders you wonder? Nope. Drug dealers? Nope. Entirely innocent citizens – in the name of saving money.
Fed up with the expense of ‘police time and resources’ involved in finding elderly vulnerable citizens, who, by definition, are fully deserving of care under the much vaunted ‘care in the community’ programme, they propose to fit them with GPS tracking devices. A mere £100 each. This is not, they stress, the same as tagging criminals, for ‘electronic tags are worn round the ankle, these devices are worn round the waist or the neck….’
Presumably it is only a short step to implanting such a device, for that is ‘obviously different’ to an electronic tag which can be removed after a set period! If we accept implants for the elderly, ‘for their own good’, why not children? Who can ignore the danger children face in today’s paedophile filled world? If all children are implanted – then it is merely a matter of waiting 20 years before you have adults who are so implanted…
No lawyers have been outraged. Any more than they were outraged when it was revealed that thousands of vulnerable people have been deprived of their liberty ‘for their own good’ without any authority, simply because they wished to go somewhere and care staff either didn’t want to go with them or were too under staffed to spare the time.
This morning there are emotive articles saying what a ‘good thing’ this new technology is, that it will allow families and carers to give ‘more freedom’ to dementia sufferers. That might be a valid argument had the dementia sufferer given their permission in advance to be tracked in this way, in the same manner that you could give a lasting power of attorney to someone to allow them to make other decisions for you and avoid the Court of Protection. That hasn’t happened.
The Telegraph has revealed that one company alone, Buddi, has supplied such devices to over 90% of local councils allegedly providing ‘care’ to elderly patients. Nobody appears sure quite what oversight, if any, is given to this practice, nor who should be responsible for monitoring it.
If there was so much as a hint of such practices being undertaken against criminals there would be an outcry. Civil Right’s organisations would be in uproar. Why do we care so much more about criminal’s rights than we do about victims of dementia?