Queensland government staff volunteers will be tracked like sex offenders for a one-week period as the government rushes to run its first GPS-tracking trial in August.
The Queensland Department of Community Safety (DCS) is planning to run a trial aimed at tracking the movements of known sex offenders via GPS. Although the state government announced the initiative in June, prior to its budget, it only released its expression of interest documents for vendors interested in being part of the trial yesterday.
The department is allowing a three-week period for those interested to submit their proposals, immediately after which it plans to develop a shortlist of respondents by 25 July. Those invited will provide GPS devices and a tracking system for the trial and will identify further safety and security requirements by using DCS's own staff volunteers as part of the trial.
For a one-week period starting 8 August this year (two weeks after shortlisted respondents are determined), DCS staff volunteers will wear the GPS devices and mimic normal actions and movements for offenders considering curfews and employment conditions. They will also test how the devices perform in various environments, such as at the beach or at the gym; in buildings, tunnels and mountain ranges; and as a result of accidental or intentional misuse, such as overcharging or tampering.
DCS will also examine whether offenders are tracked actively (keeping track of them at any time of the day), passively (logging movements per time period) or via a combination of both tracking methods. The trial will consider the differences between the methods, including their reliability and the resources required to implement them.
The GPS devices will be required to communicate over the GSM network, and will ideally be able to alert operators when offenders violate defined exclusion/inclusion zones or curfews, tamper with the device or lose connectivity.
The government set aside $9.6 million over three years and $4.1 million per year from 2014/15 for the initiative in its last state budget. The plan is to cover 70 of the state's 79 known sex offenders that live in the community, although there are also potential plans to increase this coverage at a later date. The 70 offenders are currently being monitored using radio frequency-equipped anklets that communicate with stationary units to send alerts via a telephone line.