Electronic tags have been used by UK courts for a number of years, helping them to keep track of offenders’ movements.
Christopher Lowcock, from northern England, had been fitted with an electronic tag after being given a court-imposed curfew for driving and drug offences. What the person who fitted the tag didn’t know was that they were attaching it to Lowcock’s false leg, which he duly removed whenever he wanted to leave his house.
According to an Associated Press report, 29-year-old Lowcock had covered up his false leg with a bandage, so the person fitting the tag didn’t realise it wasn’t real. The report said the tagger also failed to carry out certain tests when setting up the tag and monitoring equipment at Lowcock’s home. A second member of the security firm who visited Lowcock also failed to perform proper tests.
When staff from the firm visited Lowcock’s home on a third occasion, they were puzzled to find that he wasn’t there, although of course his prosthetic limb was (with tag attached). They later discovered he was in police custody again after being caught driving while banned and without insurance.
A spokeswoman for the security company said that it tags 70,000 people a year on behalf of the UK’S Ministry of Justice.
“In this individual’s case, two employees failed to adhere to the correct procedures when installing the tag. Had they done so, they would have identified his prosthetic leg,” she explained. “Failure to follow procedure is a serious disciplinary offence, and the two employees responsible for the installation of the tag have now been dismissed.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We expect the highest level of professionalism from all our contractors, and there are strict guidelines which must be followed when tagging offenders.”
The mishap is a big embarrassment for the security firm, G4S, while Lowcock’s ingenuity will no doubt be rewarded with a stiff penalty.