A buddi for Buddy? And me??

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
From the Daily Telegraph 2nd July 2009Mental health patients to be ‘tagged’ with GPS trackers

Dangerous mental health patients are to be fitted with state-of-the-art GPS trackers by the NHS after a mental patient on the run murdered a pensioner.

By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
Published: 7:00AM BST 02 Jul 2009


An NHS Trust in south London has launched the initiative after Terrence O’Keefe, a convicted rapist, was found guilty last week of strangling David Kemp, 73, after escaping from the care of a secure mental health unit.
A pilot system started yesterday for the next month in which a group of medium and high risk patients will be fitted with ankle tags when they are granted day leave, or transferred to and from hospital.
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, which apologised for the blunder admitting it “should not have happened”, is now trialling new technology to track its patients.

The main headline is of course designed to be alarmist, for patients and those people who fear us. (Although people who fear ‘mental patients’ are also likely to be reassured that we’re being tracked.) But I think it’s an interesting development despite the tragedy that prompted this innovation, and despite the association with offenders, what Wolfensberger gives the ungainly but accurate term ‘deviant image juxtaposition’. Counter-acting the clunkiness, coercion and criminal connections, there are lots of child-trackers on the market now eg www.iseeka.co.uk. This should help destigmatise the use of tracking devices, which you may have seen are being introduced by some elderly services.

Of course, lots of people will feel that this is one tag too far, and that the ethical complexities of tracking someone who can’t give their consent outweigh the safety and other benefits. For me, as with every piece of technology or chocolate, it all depends on how it’s used. (OK, maybe not chocolate as there can be no negative uses of chocolate.) There needs somehow to be a balance of desirable factors:
Autonomy and freedom
Minimising stigma including self-stigma
Minimising discrimination

Not an easy one! The technicalities might be quite simple compared to the ethicalities. One supplier is:

From: www.buddi.co.uk:

The Buddi Tracker device was created by Sara Murray, who spent five years designing it after her daughter went missing in a supermarket. An entrepreneur, she also founded the online insurance company now known as confused.com. In case you skimmed that last bit, it’d be rash to under-estimate the woman who set up confused.com. Very not Dragons Den.
The tracker allows authorities to know where the patient has been and precisely where they are at any given moment in time. It updates its location every minute and can only be forcibly removed using industrial bolt cutters. It is believed that the device could also be rolled out for use in the prison and courts system instead of the current tag, which merely acts to enforce a curfew system.

Categories: Blog, Uncategorised