Aylesbury firm’s multi-milion ‘criminal GPS’ deal collapses

Buddi boss Sara Murray
Buddi boss Sara Murray

A multi-million pound deal between the government and an Aylesbury firm which makes high-tech devices to track criminals has collapsed.

Buddi was chosen by the government last August to supply the new generation of electronic GPS tags used to monitor around 20,000 criminals.

But they are now out of the process as the company has been unable to reach agreement on certain commercial aspects of the proposed contract with the Ministry of Justice.

Buddi said these issues included the requirement for it to hand over its Intellectual Property (IP) on the Smart Tags and confirmation that the company will not receive any form of payment for further development to meet government customisations.

The tags work by enabling police to follow offenders’ locations in real time using a map, giving their precise location anywhere in the world to within a few feet.

They are more accurate than the traditional curfew tag, which only works if the offender remains at home.

Buddi, based in Walton Street and founded by Sara Murray, designed the tags which are manufactured in Nottingham by technology firm SMS.

In August, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced Buddi had been chosen as a ‘preferred bidder’ for the new contract, starting in 2014.

He said that choosing a British company to provide the technology had sent an ‘important message to the market – Government is serious about making our contracts accessible to small and medium Enterprises’.

Buddi and SMS will now focus on continuing to develop business overseas.

They have already secured contracts in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden, and are currently bidding around the world for further contracts with a total value of £300m.

Buddi tags are also already in use in a majority of authorities (currently 36 of 42 police forces across England and Wales) for the very limited uses in which the government has not chosen global firms G4S or Serco.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “In August 2013 we announced four preferred bidders for our new electronic monitoring contracts – Capita, Astrium, Telefonica and Buddi.

“We have been unable to agree on certain technical and commercial aspects of the contract with Buddi to provide tags.

“We have therefore decided to recompete this element of the contract to ensure we deliver an efficient service that represents best value for hardworking taxpayers while protecting the public.

“Though we are disappointed not to have reached a solution that meets our needs with Buddi on this contract, we remain open to working with them in the future.

“The new contracts will introduce leading edge tracking technology that will allow us to monitor the movements of offenders. This will be vital in cutting crime and creating a safer society with fewer victims.

“Discussions are reaching a positive conclusion with the other three bidders and we remain on track to begin roll-out by the end of the year.”