Electronic monitoring

We are expanding the use of electronic monitoring (tagging) within the criminal justice system in Scotland, to help support rehabilitation and reduce reoffending.

The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2019 extends the potential for electronic monitoring – both in terms of what other measures it can be combined with and the use of new technologies.

This will increase the options available to manage and monitor those serving all or part of their sentence in the community.

Using electronic monitoring in more integrated ways

The expansion of electronic monitoring will be used in more integrated ways.  For example, once the relevant sections of the Act are commenced then courts can combine electronic monitoring with community sentences such as a Community Payback Order at first disposal rather than just for breach.

The potential of combining community sentences with electronic tagging will enhance how we might add structure to a sentence and better support a person's rehabilitation.

Support for those subject to electronic monitoring

Electronic monitoring gives people the opportunity to break their cycle of offending behaviour, whilst allowing them to remain with their families, and continue in employment or education.

We are clear that electronic monitoring should be used as part of a wider package of support tailored to the needs, risks and circumstances of individuals.

Use of new technologies for monitoring

The introduction of new technologies will present opportunities to improve the capabilities available for electronic monitoring.

Global positioning systems (GPS) technology

GPS offers an opportunity to improve monitoring capability, for example through the use of exclusion zones, which may be an additional part of an order or licence.

We have legislated to permit the use of global positioning systems (GPS) technology for monitoring purposes, alongside the existing radio frequency technology.

Alcohol monitoring technology

Technology exists to enable individuals to have their alcohol consumption monitored using, for example, a breathalyser incorporated into a monitoring unit or ankle tag.

We plan to take forward a project to investigate how this type of technology might be used within the justice system.

Background to changes

The electronic monitoring legislation was developed with close engagement with partners, and took into account recommendations from an independent working group and responses from two public consultations.

Following a consultation in 2013, we set up an Electronic Monitoring Working Group to consider how electronic monitoring could be better used within the criminal justice system. The Group’s final report was published in 2016.

We consulted further in 2017, to gather views on our proposals for legislation. These reflected the findings and recommendations of the Working Group.