THE introduction of a new, more modern electronic tagging system for criminals has been branded "a tragic waste of public money" by a Gwent MP.

Islwyn's Chris Evans was speaking after a report by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, of which he is a member, branded the introduction of new electronic tags, which is five years behind schedule, "a catastrophic waste of public money".

The new GPS-based tags were originally due to be introduced in 2013, but are now expected not to be to be rolled until early next year.

The report blasted the Ministry of Justice's management of the scheme as being "shambolic" and said it had "failed to deliver the intended benefits".

Labour MP Mr Evans said: "This is a tragic waste of public money which could and should not have happened.

"I think this case shows a fundamental lack of common sense on the part of the Ministry of Justice and taxpayers are the ones paying the price."

He added: "The Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking 16 other major projects and it remains to be seen whether the department will learn from the mistakes it has made in this case.

"The committee will be monitoring all other Ministry of Justice projects very closely to ensure this never happens again."

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Electronic monitoring is a valuable tool in supervising offenders and protecting the public, but we have been clear there were a number of challenges to our expansion of the electronic monitoring programme.

"As a direct result, we fundamentally changed our approach in 2015, expanding and strengthening our commercial teams and bringing responsibility for oversight of the programme in-house.

"We are now in a strong position to continue improving confidence in the service and providing better for value for money for the taxpayer.”