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Electronic monitoring to cut reoffending

Published: 2 Mar 2017 09:30
Part of:
Law and order

Consultation on how tagging should be expanded.

Views are being sought on how electronic tagging should be expanded – to help further reduce reoffending levels and keep communities safe.

Potential new uses for tagging, including new technology to monitor alcohol consumption and voluntary schemes for persistent offenders, are being considered as part of a major expansion of electronic monitoring, which would see new legislation being introduced.

The expansion could see tagging used as a condition of a community payback order, giving added security of restricting a person’s movement while carrying out a sentence involving unpaid work in the community.

Changes being explored include:

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking technology in addition to current radio tagging
  • Giving courts the option of tagging as an alternative to a fine
  • Using tagging as a bail condition as an alternative to custody on remand
  • Introducing electronic tags as a condition of release from custody while a police investigation is ongoing

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“There will always be crimes where a prison sentence is the only reasonable response – but international research backs our experience that prison is not always the most effective way to bring down repeat  offending.

“That is why we are considering a major expansion on the way we use electronic monitoring and we want to hear people’s views on what those changes should look like.

“This is about effective changes that stop people reoffending, make best use of emerging technology and tackle our high rate of imprisonment – all with the aim of doing more to keep people safe.”

Stirling University criminologist and electronic monitoring researcher, Dr Hannah Graham, said:

“This consultation is an important opportunity for people to voice their views because the proposals it contains for new uses of electronic monitoring will require changes to the law to be passed.

‘There’s a pressing need to reduce unnecessary and costly uses of prison in Scotland, and how this is done matters. What roles new uses of electronic tagging might play in this are central to what the consultation asks people to comment on.

“International evidence shows electronic monitoring can be used effectively and ethically, without routinely resorting to custody. This doesn’t mean indiscriminate tagging and surveillance en masse, nor does it mean ignoring victims and families. It means tailoring tagging to be fit-for-purpose, with due regard for all affected. This consultation proposes some practical ways of better integrating electronic tagging with supports for rehabilitation to help people leave crime behind.”

Background

Access the online consultation.

Last year the Scottish Government announced plans to introduce new legislation to expand the use of electronic monitoring.

The plans follow recommendations from a working group on electronic monitoring which included introduction of GPS technology and a demonstration project to look at how alcohol monitoring technology could be used. It also recognised scope to extend electronic monitoring for a range of uses, including a voluntary scheme for persistent offenders.

[details of all recommendations on previous release linked above].

The approach in Scotland to use of electronic tagging is informed by international evidence, which has been reviewed by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research.