I recently attended an event organised by Glasgow Community Justice Authority to explore how electronic monitoring is being and could be used in Scotland. Great, I thought this will be my chance to learn about electronic monitoring. What was really useful about the event was that we heard from people with different experiences and perspectives, including Scottish Government, families, and practitioners. We also heard stories and examples from other places and countries.
What surprised me most was that all the speakers talked about electronic monitoring as a tool that can be used in a range of ways. I had just assumed monitoring was all about punishment and restricting people’s activities and movements.
One speaker gave an example of a man who volunteered to have electronic monitoring. He did so because he saw it as an opportunity to live in a different way and away from offending. It not only gave him a reason and excuse to do different things with new people but also have him proof to show to organisations like the police that he wasn’t involved in any unlawful activity.
In the Netherlands, electronic monitoring is being used to encourage and support people to live good and meaningful lives. There is also a requirement and support for individuals to participate in 26 hours a week of activity including working and volunteering.
If electronic monitoring is to be a tool to aid rehabilitation and integration then other things need to be in place alongside it to make it happen and this is where it gets more expensive and more complicated. For individuals to seek out and lead good lives they need skilled people to offer support, encouragement, direction and opportunity. They also need community based options for activities, volunteering, sport and jobs to actively participate in. When these things are in place then electronic monitoring will be a real tool for rehabilitation and integration.