6. Extending the Use of Electronic Monitoring for the Purposes of Temporary Release from Prison
Electronic monitoring for purposes of temporary release from prison
For those prisoners who are on the margins of acceptable risk, introducing the use of electronic monitoring for the purposes of temporary release from prison may provide additional options for prison managers to test those individuals while maintaining public safety.
Electronic monitoring could be utilised on some occasions for work placement, home leave and future female community custody units in order to help prepare for release from prison.
Question 12: Should electronic monitoring be permitted as a condition of temporary release from prison?
6.1 55 respondents (87%) answered this question. Of these, 52 respondents (95%) agreed that electronic monitoring should be permitted as a condition of temporary release from prison; three respondents (5%) (two individuals and one partnership) disagreed.
Question 12a: Please give reasons for your answer.
Views in favour of electronic monitoring for temporary release from prison
6.2 51 respondents (81%) provided reasons for their answer. Four main benefits of the proposal were identified as:
- To prepare the offender for liberation; support their transition and rehabilitation back to their community. (16 mentions)
- To facilitate and support day-to-day opportunities to maintain community networks such as social occasions; employment experiences. (11 mentions)
- To test readiness for leaving custody; assess compliance with conditions. (10 mentions)
- To engender greater confidence in the public and professionals concerning the level of risk posed by the offender. (10 mentions)
6.3 Other benefits of the proposal were identified by four or fewer respondents:
- Helps the offender to break with old habits, e.g. negative associations; access to alcohol; access to drugs.
- To help the prison authorities to manage the offender's behaviour and their level of risk.
- Cost-effective option.
6.4 Two respondents referred to relevant research work elsewhere which suggested the effectiveness of the proposal, including reducing re-offending.
6.5 A few respondents, across different sectors, considered that the proposal had merit but only in certain circumstances. In particular, several felt that, particularly in cases of domestic abuse, the views of the victims should be taken into account prior to permitting temporary release from prison monitored electronically.
6.6 A few respondents emphasised their view that there should be support put in place to assist the person on temporary release from custody. One third sector respondent recommended that the police be informed of the person's release from custody so that they are prepared to act if the person fails to comply. An individual respondent considered that informed consent should be gained from prisoners for use of electronic monitoring, with rights and options explained to them.
6.7 One partnership urged that there should be no amendment to sentence to accommodate electronic monitoring for the purposes of temporary release from prison, with the offender still required to serve the full sentence imposed.
Views against electronic monitoring for temporary release from prison
6.8 Two reasons were provided against the proposal. One individual argued that prison sentences should be served in prison and any temporary release from prison should be supervised by Scottish Prison Service staff and the offender returned to prison as soon as possible. A partnership considered that if an individual has been assessed as suitable for temporary release, they should be given responsibility for meeting any conditions set, or face the consequences, without any need to "tag". No reason was provided by the third opponent to the proposal.
Question 12b: If you answered yes, when would you consider this appropriate?
6.9 41 respondents (65%) answered this question, although some simply repeated or made reference to their response to the previous question.
6.10 The prevailing theme to emerge from responses was that electronic monitoring should be permitted as a condition of temporary release from prison, but offenders should be assessed on an individual basis in terms of risk, circumstances and readiness to comply, before benefitting from the scheme. Several commented that use of electronic monitoring would enable temporary release when this may not otherwise have been an option, due to its contribution to risk management.
6.11 Several partnerships and a few respondents from the "other" category outlined their vision for electronic monitoring to support a structured and tapered approach to preparing offenders for returning to their respective communities, with gradual build-up of release time, based on evidence of compliance.
6.12 A few respondents emphasised the need for use of the option only where risk to the public is assessed as low. One partnership envisaged use for long-term prisoners where risk to the public is low. However, one justice body considered that where risk is low, electronic monitoring is not required, and suggested that this be permitted as a condition only in cases where there is some risk to the public.
Email: Electronic Monitoring Team, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House