PRISON reform campaigners warned yesterday that Home Secretary David Blunkett's headline-grabbing plans to track paedophiles and "persistent criminals" by satellite would fail without backup support and counselling.
The Home Secretary declared that new tagging technology would create a "prison without bars" for dangerous criminals, tracking their every move to a distance of six-and-a-half feet.
The scheme, proposed in July as part of the Home Office's five-year plan, will initially be piloted on 120 offenders in Manchester, the West Midlands and Hampshire.
"The government is determined to be at the cutting edge of technology in the drive to make our communities safer and ensure more effective sentencing of offenders," Mr Blunkett said.
But Prison Reform Trust senior policy officer Enver Solomon warned that the scheme would not succeed as a form of "control and coercion" alone.
The Home Secretary's futuristic concept of a "prison without bars" will fail to reintegrate previous offenders into the community unless it comes with a package of humane support, he argued.
"Offenders need the support of a multi-disciplinary team - probation officers, drugs workers and counsellors - to help them rebuild their lives."
Probation union NAPO assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher agreed, underlining that "satellite tracking is another form of control which, by itself, will not prevent crime."
And ex-offenders' charity Unlock founder Mark Leech called on the Home Office to focus on crime prevention, "ensuring discharged prisoners have access to housing, employment and financial assistance, rather than gathering evidence by tracking, which only comes into play once the victim has already suffered."