Whenever people talk about violent crimes in areas like London, one of the things that is quickly pointed out is the lack of gun violence when compared to someplace like the United States. This is absolutely true — because of far stricter gun laws, gun-related deaths are practically non-existence compared to other places around the globe.

However, that doesn’t mean that London doesn’t have its own violence-related issues to deal with it. It does — and many of them, in fact. Stabbings are particularly problematic. Of the 119 homicides that took place across the entirety of 2018, 68 of them were stabbings. For the sake of full disclosure, 12 were shootings and two were interesting cases that actually involved the use of a knife and a gun at the same time.

GPS Tracking

In an effort to combat this problem as effectively as possible, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, recently announced that some knife offenders would be fitted with innovative GPS trackers upon their release from prison as a condition of their parole. Naturally, this has already proven to be a bit on the controversial side.

Tracking Knife Offenders With GPS: What’s Happening in London

Detractors of this new program say that it’s nothing more than an effort to combine Mayor Khan’s hatred for knife ownership with a total disdain for the privacy of citizens. Others say that this is an innovative concept meant not to violate someone’s privacy, but to reduce the chances that they would re-offend. According to a press release, GPS trackers will be given to up to 100 offenders in four London areas that have been “most affected by knife crime” in recent years.

One of the legitimate problems the program does have, however, comes down to how those 100 offenders will be chosen. Many of them will have been previously convicted of serious crimes like robbery or grievous bodily harm — it’s probably hard to find someone on the other side of that issue. Some of them will be people who have been convicted of the nebulous crime of “knife possession,” however, which is a move that probably asks more questions than it answers.

For people around the world, it’s important to note that carrying a knife “without good reason” that “does not have a folding blade” and “is longer than three inches in length” is totally forbidden by the British government. Likewise, a wide range of different knives have been banned across the entirety of the U.K., and switchblades are just one of the many examples. If you’re caught in violation of these rules, not only can you potentially get sent to prison for up to four years, but you might also be subject to an equally concerning “unlimited fine” as well.

As of right now, the program will target people who are “more likely to re-offend” than others. Those people will be outfitted with the GPS trackers and, for a specific period of time, will have their movements checked against the location of reported crimes. Any type of significant matches will then be shared with local law enforcement, at which point the repeat offender in question will likely be arrested all over again. Details are short, however, on how program officials will determine who is likely to repeat offenses and who isn’t.

At this point, it’s far too early to say whether or not this program will be successful or whether it will be used to usher in a new era of governmental overreach under the guise of “safety.” It’s clear that London has a crime problem and it is one that has a lot to do with knives in particular. How much this program changes that problem in a meaningful way remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, however — there are probably a lot of local law enforcement agencies around the world who are going to be watching this program’s progress closely to see if this is the type of thing they should be doing in their own areas moving forward.