The Family Perspective
Electronic Monitoring affects more than just the person who wears the tag. People who are electronically monitored often live with others, and recent research into the impact on 'co-residents' - primarily family members - reports that families experienced the feeling of punishment as well, with anxiety as a common side effect.
Families reported that their daily routines and social lives were affected by EM. For example, feeling guilty about attending social events which fell during curfew hours, which in turn risked increasing a family's own social isolation. They also reported feeling like social workers, compliant in assisting with their family member's monitoring. They felt responsible for ensuring their family member refrained from consuming alcohol, arrived home in enough time to meet the conditions of the curfew, and taking responsibility for the family's everyday tasks.
Families summarise their experience in saying that imprisonment is more difficult for a family emotionally, but that EM is more taxing psychologically. The experience risks adding stress to family relationships, increasing isolation, putting families in a 'policing' role, and leaving them to feel their needs are secondary. They still preferred tagging overall to the separation of imprisonment, but the impact of EM on families' needs to be recognised and supported.
While it is the case in Scotland that families must provide consent in addition to the home assessment before having their loved one return home under EM, they would also benefit from a more informed approach such as through an information pack for families affected by electronic monitoring. In addition, they may also benefit from having direct access, support and contact with services.