9. Impact Assessments
The Scottish Government is committed to promoting equality and removing or minimising disadvantage which may be experienced by different groups of people. The Scottish Government has a legal duty to consider the impact of policies on people who may be differently affected in relation to the "protected characteristics" under the Equality Act 2010. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
Question 15: Please tell us about any potential equality impacts, either positive or negative, that you consider the proposals in this consultation may have.
9.1 42 respondents (67%) answered this question. A common view was that a suitability assessment should be made each time electronic monitoring is being considered, particularly as the sanction will impact on others residing at the property where monitoring will take place:
"The potential impact on the rest of the household, and children in particular, would merit the use of a CRWIA (Child Rights & Wellbeing Impact Assessment) to be conducted early in the planning and implementation process" (Families Outside).
9.2 One individual emphasised the need for detailed equality monitoring and equalities data relating to electronic monitoring to be routinely collected and made public, in order to enable assessment of impacts of the policy on different groups.
Views on potential positive equality impacts
9.3 Many respondents interpreted the question as relating to general positive impacts of electronic monitoring and reiterated their support for its potential in terms of providing an alternative to custody; enhancing desistance; protecting victims; maintaining the individual's social networks; and so on.
9.4 Others identified potential positive equality impacts:
- Women: electronic monitoring provides a robust approach to safeguarding women and children in domestic violence cases; women are currently disproportionately represented in the remand population and offering an alternative to remand will impact positively on them; there is only one women's prison in Scotland which results in significant travel for families visiting of women in custody. Electronic monitoring will provide a local, non-custodial alternative.
- Health: people with physical or mental health needs or those with complex needs will be more likely to be able to continue with any care they were receiving, if "tagged" rather than receiving an alternative intervention.
9.5 Potential negative equality impacts were identified:
- Amputees or people with certain physical disabilities may be excluded from the scope of electronic monitoring.
- People in rural areas may not have the consistent, reliable signal coverage required to access the technology for electronic monitoring.
- Women may feel disproportionately embarrassed by being subjected to what they could perceive is "male punishment"; women may have restricted clothing options due to the placement of the tag.
- Curfew restrictions may prevent some people attending religious events and worship at set times.
- People with learning disabilities may require particular support to ensure their informed consent can be given for electronic monitoring.
- People who work irregular hours may not be able to adhere to curfew requirements.
- Homeless people may not be able to provide a suitable home address for monitoring to take place.
Business and regulation
The Scottish Government does not think that a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment is necessary as the electronic monitoring policy will not directly impose new regulatory burdens on businesses, charities or the voluntary sector.
Question 16: Please tell us about any potential costs and burdens that you consider may arise as a result of the proposals within this consultation.
9.6 43 respondents (68%) answered this question. A few considered that there would be initial costs associated with implementation, but savings would ensue in due course, largely in terms of a reduced prison population; reduced re-offending; and savings on fines enforcement.
9.7 The most frequently identified potential cost which respondents considered may arise as a result of the proposals was that of supporting the person being monitored during the monitoring period. Twenty respondents, from a wide range of sectors, identified costs falling largely on social work and third sector services in connection with supporting compliance and addressing breaches.
9.8 Other costs mentioned, each by nine respondents were:
- Social work costs associated with undertaking assessments of suitability for electronic monitoring.
- Court and other justice costs associated with additional court time for assessments; dealing with non-compliance; amendments to sentencing guidelines.
- Costs of service provider including set up/installation; data storage and processing.
- Cost of equipment: manufacturing; replacing lost equipment.
9.9 A few other potential costs were identified. Two third sector respondents referred to potential burdens on the families residing with the person undergoing monitoring, including their efforts to help the person comply, perhaps by undertaking a policing role themselves, or placing themselves under curfew, in solidarity. A private sector respondent highlighted potential loss of employment and associated burdens on individuals being monitored electronically. Two respondents (partnership and third sector) identified potential training costs for professionals involved: social workers; prison staff; police; judiciary; and contract staff.
The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 ensures those public plans that are likely to have a significant impact on the environment are assessed and measures to prevent or reduce adverse impacts are sought, where possible, prior to implementation of the plan in question. The Scottish Government does not consider that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is necessary as the electronic monitoring policy will not directly impose on the environment.
Question 17: Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, that you consider that any proposals in this consultation may have on the environment.
9.10 27 respondents (43%) answered this question. The overarching view was that the proposals would have none or very little impact on the environment, providing that the equipment is environmentally friendly, recyclable and biodegradable.
9.11 A few partnerships suggested that positive environmental impacts may emerge in terms of less prison estate required over time due to a reduced prison population; and a reduction in vehicle transport due to fewer trips taking people from custody to court.
9.12 A few partnerships and an individual considered that negative environmental impacts may result from greater energy use and increased numbers of phone masts required for signal coverage; and an increased carbon footprint on account of more vehicle journeys to deal with fitting the equipment, responding to alerts, and retrieving the equipment.
Email: Electronic Monitoring Team, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House