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Ministers consider options to extend offender remote monitoring

23 September 2013

Sex offenders, persistent offenders, people accused of domestic abuse, and accused on bail pending sentence are among those who could be subject to new remote monitoring arrangements under proposals in a new Scottish Government consultation.

The paper considers a number of possible uses of GPS satellite tracking, along with other technological developments such as alcohol bracelets, which can be used to take readings from an offender’s skin to remotely monitor their alcohol intake.

Since April this year, a new Scottish Government electronic monitoring contract has been in place which for the first time allows for GPS capability. The new consultation asks how these methods of monitoring could be used and with which types of offenders.

Satellite tracking can enable the authorities to track an offender’s exact location, or to establish "exclusion zones", triggering an alarm whenever an offender comes near an area they are prohibited from, or areas and places associated with the potential risk for reoffending, such as high streets, schools and playgrounds.

The paper notes that it is important to be clear about the purpose of electronic monitoring in the way it is used. "Electronic monitoring is a significant measure, it is a restriction on people's liberty and in financial terms it is not a cost free option, as there is a direct financial charge to the Scottish Government for each person monitored. Therefore, it is important to be sure that electronic monitoring is effective in how it is used and that it is effectively targeted", it comments. "Any proposed development of the electronic monitoring service must be clear about the anticipated target group and the anticipated benefit."

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said that monitoring of sex offenders and others whose release into the community gave rise to the greatest public concern, was already among the most stringent anywhere, but he wanted to see if there was more that could be done.

“While satellite tracking alone cannot provide a magic solution to the complex issues faced by those dealing with offenders, it does have the potential to improve how they are monitored and managed, for the benefit of the public", he commented.

“It is important to stress that we are not proposing using the new technology to allow offenders who would currently be sent to jail to be in the community, but to improve monitoring of offenders who would already be given community sentences or be out on licence. We are not committed to any of these uses, and we are happy to take all views, including those on other ways in which the technology could be deployed.”

Click here to view the consultation. The closing date for responses is 31 December 2013.

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