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Tagging expansion proposals go out to views

2 March 2017

Potential new uses for electronic tagging, including new technology to monitor alcohol consumption and voluntary schemes for persistent offenders, are being considered as part of a major expansion as ministers seek to reduce reoffending levels.

Consultation opened today on Scottish Government proposals, which would require legislation, which could see tagging used as a condition of a community payback order, restricting an offender's movement while allowing them to carry out a sentence involving unpaid work in the community.

Other changes being explored include:

  • global positioning system (GPS) tracking technology in addition to current radio tagging, which would permit the creation of "buffer zones", in which an offender could be monitored without being in breach of their order, in addition to exclusion zones;
  • giving courts the option of tagging as an alternative to a fine, or as a condition of a sexual offences prevention order or a risk of sexual harm order;
  • 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.

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, as well as other extensions proposed in the current paper.

Alcohol consumption can be monitored by a bracelet which detects alcohol sweated out through the skin.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “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 the proposals did not mean "indiscriminate tagging and surveillance en masse", but tailoring tagging to be fit for purpose, with "some practical ways of better integrating electronic tagging with supports for rehabilitation to help people leave crime behind". 

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for responses is 19 May 2017.

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