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Experts to study electronic tagging of offenders

31 October 2014

An expert working group has been set up by the Scottish Government to examine the use of electronic monitoring of offenders in Scotland.

A consultation found that, while electronic monitoring was a valued and well-established feature of the criminal justice system in Scotland, more could be done to raise awareness of and take forward improvements to the current service.

In response to a number of concerns raised by respondents, the working group will also carry out a study into the effectiveness of GPS and remote alcohol monitoring technologies, to ensure they are fit for purpose before any decisions are made about their future use.

The group will include representatives from the Judicial Institute for Scotland, Social Work Scotland, Police Scotland, G4S, Scottish Prison Service, the Violence Reduction Unit and academia. Its first meeting will be in early November.

Its remit will be to:

  • raise awareness of the use of electronic monitoring and identify opportunities for greater use;
  • undertake a review of current guidance for policy areas currently using electronic monitoring as a tool;
  • explore how other jurisdictions have used electronic monitoring for different groups of offenders;
  • assess the use of GPS as a tool for electronic monitoring, identifying any potential limitations and comparing the use, cost and effectiveness of this method compared with radio frequency monitoring;
  • explore the possibility of introducing alcohol monitoring in Scotland and assess any potential opportunities and limitations of such equipment.

At the same time, ministers will develop an electronic monitoring eLearning package for users in the criminal justice system, work with the Scottish Prison Service to overcome difficulties with home detention curfews, and work with the Judicial Institute on judicial understanding of electronic monitoring as a disposal.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the establishment of the working group would "increase understanding of the capabilities of the technology and explore whether it can be developed to address other types of offending behaviour".

He added: “On the face of it, GPS technology appears to offer potential opportunities for the management of sex offenders or to be used in cases of domestic abuse. However, some concerns have been raised into the effectiveness of this technology, so I want the new expert group to carry out thorough testing and make recommendations to the Scottish Government to allow us to consider whether it is suitable for use on any offenders in Scotland.”

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