A consultation examining how electronic tagging should be expanded in Scotland to help reduce reoffending levels has been launched.
Potential new uses for tagging, including new technology to monitor alcohol consumption and voluntary schemes for persistent offenders, are being considered by experts including Dr Hannah Graham, lecturer in criminology at the University of Stirling, as part of a major expansion of electronic monitoring.
The Scottish Government consultation has been launched to seek public views on how electronic monitoring should be used before new legislation is announced.
The expansion of electronic tagging could see it used as a condition of a community payback order and other measures to provide added security of restricting a person’s movement while they are carrying out their sentence in the community.
Changes being explored include:
Introduction of GPS tracking technology in addition to current radio frequency tagging
Giving the court the option of tagging as an alternative to imposing a fine
Using tagging as a bail condition as an alternative to being kept in custody on remand
Introduction of electronic tags as a condition of release from custody while police investigation is ongoing.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "We are preparing for a major expansion on the way we use electronic monitoring across our justice system and we want to hear people’s views on what those changes should look like.
“We want to make best use of emerging technology and make changes which continue our drive to reduce reoffending and tackle our high rate of imprisonment in the best way possible to keep people safe.
“There will always be crimes where a prison sentence is the only reasonable response, but international research backs our own experience that prison is not always not the most effective way to bring down offending."
Dr Hannah Graham, lecturer in criminology at the University of Stirling, said: “This consultation is an important opportunity for people to voice their views because the proposals it contains for new uses of electronic monitoring will require changes to the law to be passed.
‘There’s a pressing need to reduce unnecessary and costly uses of prison in Scotland, and how this is done matters. What roles new uses of electronic tagging might play in this are central to what the consultation asks people to comment on.
“International evidence shows electronic monitoring can be used effectively and ethically, without routinely resorting to custody. This doesn’t mean indiscriminate tagging and surveillance en masse, nor does it mean ignoring victims and families. It means tailoring tagging to be fit-for-purpose, with due regard for all affected. This consultation proposes some practical ways of better integrating electronic tagging with supports for rehabilitation to help people leave crime behind.”