The future for electronic monitoring in Scotland

The following recommendations were recently announced by a Scottish government commissioned working group regarding how electronic monitoring or ‘tagging’ can move from being a solely punitive measure to a sentencing option that works in tandem with support organisations. There are four core recommendations:

  1. Technology
    GPS technology should be introduced to the electronic monitoring service in Scotland. Its use should be not be predicated by crime type. GPS technology is versatile and decisions on its use should be made as part of an individually tailored approach, including where it can aid public and victim safety and where it can be used to strengthen the monitored person’s desistance.
  2. Future Service Delivery
    To be most effective, the future model of service delivery for electronic monitoring in Scotland must be more integrated than it has been previously. Stand alone orders will be suitable for some individuals and should therefore remain as a legitimate disposal. However, in the majority of cases, whether a court order, HDC or as a condition of parole licence, electronic monitoring – having been based on a risk assessment – must be tailored to reflect the personal circumstances of each individual. Where longer term desistance is the overarching goal, electronic monitoring should be part of a wider package of support, delivered locally by statutory bodies with Third Sector involvement. Its use should not be restricted to particular crimes and need not be restricted to being an alternative to custody. The future model will retain a nationally commissioned technology and monitoring service.
  3. A Goal Oriented and Person Centred Approach
    For electronic monitoring to be used most effectively, its use should be considered in line with the overarching goals for each monitored person and tailored to reflect the needs, risk and circumstances of that individual. Where longer term desistance is the ultimate goal, electronic monitoring should be set within a wider package of support provided by statutory bodies with Third Sector involvement.
  4. Compliance
    Ensuring that effective structures are criteria are in place to support compliance and manage non-compliance are crucial to contributing to a long term reduction in further offending, while maintaining electronic monitoring as a robust community sentence. For court orders, to strengthen Sheriffs’ confidence in electronic monitoring as a robust disposal, two reporting options (standard and intensive) for reporting non-compliance should be developed. For Home Detention Curfew, amendments should be made to streamline the current non-compliance criteria and should be accepted and used by all Scottish prison establishments.In partnership with individuals, agencies and organisations including the Judiciary, Police Scotland, Scottish Prison Service, Parole Board for Scotland, Criminal Justice Social Work, victims, the Third Sector and the service provider, response levels to non compliance should be defined, agreed and set out in a response framework.

A further four recommendations for the use of electronic monitoring in the future were made including wider use in the community (e.g. as an alternative to remand and support to pre-trial conditions or to short term prison sentences), by SPS within the custodial estate (e.g. for work placement, home leave, community access from closed establishments), legislative change to enable the above amendments to existing law and an invitation to statutory and non statutory organisations to present their statement of intent with regard to electronic monitoring.