Can you put a GPS tracker in knives?

GPS tracker in knives
Sharp thinking: an MP wants to put GPS trackers in knives

UK politics could barely be stranger at the moment. If Theresa May stood up in the Commons this afternoon and announced she was making Bob Carolgees the new Foreign Secretary, it would be a slow news day.

And yet even by the did-someone-spike-my-tea-with-ketamine standard of the current political discourse, Scott Mann – the Conservative MP for North Cornwall – has managed to lower the bar.

Wading into the debate on knife crime, with all the aplomb of a badger trying to solve The Times Cryptic Crossword, Mann tweeted:

It’s hard to know where to start with this one. But we here at The Big Tech Question have never shied away from a challenge, so why exactly is the idea of putting a GPS tracker in knives crackerdogs?

Well, firstly, GPS radios aren’t powered by fairy dust. While it would certainly be possible to insert a GPS radio into the handle of most knives, you would also need to insert a battery and then keep that battery charged. GPS radios go through batteries like MPs go through expenses, so in all likelihood you would need to charge your entire set of kitchen knives every night.

You can imagine the scene in your living room at 11pm every night, when you’re plugging in the bread knife next to your Samsung Galaxy. Or being dragged down to the station to explain why you didn’t keep the vegetable peeler topped up. Not to mention the National Grid being crippled by enormous power surges as everyone charges the contents of their kitchen drawer simultaneously.

The second, somewhat fatal, flaw in Mann’s plan (as if the power thing were just a little kink that needs ironing out) is that the installed base of knives is quite large. I’ll admit, I’ve not done any empirical research on this, but my guess would be we’re talking hundreds of millions. (I know, journalists, where do they pluck these figures from?)

So, either Mann is going to require a nationwide knife amnesty, where everyone hands in enough steel to restore our warship fleet to Churchillian levels, or it will take about 20 years for the installed base of impossible-to-power GPS knives to reach a critical mass.

Finally, as the sage @ppiixx pointed out to me on Twitter, GPS trackers know where they are, but they don’t broadcast their location. And even if you could get knives to beam their co-ordinates back to the police, best of British to the poor sod who has to dispatch a squad car every time the school cook takes her meat knife out of the drawer.

All told, I don’t think he’s thought it through.

NOW READ THIS: Is your smartwatch tracking your runs correctly?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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  • Well you could overcome the power problem by installing one of those new miniature nuclear power plants, and make it compolsery to hand in any knives without the GPS tracker job done