Sex offender security bracelets ‘lose signal’

Police are searching for Andrew Darling, who cut through his monitoring device.Electronic bracelets used to monitor some of Victoria’s worst sex offenders at an Ararat facility intermittently lose signal, leading to confusion among the officers guarding the centre.

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles said some signals did not register on the monitoring system at the Corella Place facility.

‘‘For whatever reason, the signalling stops,’’ he said.

‘‘[The guards] think there’s an issue but the prisoner is there.’’

Mr Iddles spoke on Monday following the escape of convicted child rapist Andrew Darling, who has been on the run for more than 24 hours after cutting through his monitoring device early on Sunday morning.

Mr Iddles said the recent introduction of GPS had improved the bracelets but problems with signalling remained.

‘‘We’ve got to make sure the system is working 100 per cent and it’s not at the moment,’’ he said.

Victoria’s Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said bracelets relied on mobile phone coverage and prisoners were subject to other forms of surveillance, including staff supervision.

‘‘They work as we expect them to work,’’ she told radio station 3AW.

Darling, 42, triggered an alarm after removing his tracking device shortly after 2.30am on Sunday.

Community and Public Sector Union industrial officer Andrew Capp said the escape exposed flaws in the monitoring system.

He said union members were concerned they would be held accountable for deficiencies in the technology.

‘‘It’s incumbent on Corrections Victoria to look at … whether they need to invest in new technology,’’ Mr Capp said.

Corella Place houses some of Victoria’s worst sex offenders.

The 55-bed facility accommodates offenders who have finished their sentences but are deemed to be an unacceptable risk of reoffending.

There are no walls surrounding the facility, but the offenders living there are monitored with GPS ankle bracelets and cannot leave without permission.

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