1 Executive Summary
1.1 The consultation paper 'Development of Electronic Monitoring in Scotland: A Consultation on the Future Direction of the Electronic Monitoring Service' was launched in September 2013, seeking views on the operation of the current electronic monitoring service in Scotland as well as options for future development of the service which could include satellite tracking and remote alcohol monitoring.
1.2 The consultation response form comprised 21 open questions covering the broad themes of radio frequency monitoring, GPS, and other electronic monitoring issues. The final question asked for any other comments that had not been covered elsewhere.
1.3 Forty-eight responses were received from organisations in the public, private and third sectors as well as other independent and professional bodies and academic institutions.
Overview of responses
1.4 A majority of the organisations responding to the consultation were broadly supportive of the development of electronic monitoring to be integrated better into the rehabilitative journey. The key themes in responses related to the need for electronic monitoring to be part of a rehabilitative, person-centred 'package' of support, the need for interaction and integration between statutory services and the service provider and the need for effective information sharing between organisations.
1.5 Whilst the current system for handling breach of orders was broadly supported by some organisations responding to the consultation, there were more widespread suggestions for improvements. The main suggestions for improvements focused on further improving speed of response, simplification of the system, the need for greater clarity regarding consequences of breach and improved communication and information sharing.
1.6 The main barriers to greater use of electronic monitoring related to a perceived lack of understanding and awareness generally, public perceptions of electronic monitoring as a 'soft' punishment, the need for evidence on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring in terms of reducing reoffending and concerns about the appropriateness of offenders' living arrangements when under electronic monitoring. A small number of respondents also cited privacy and human rights issues as an area of potential concern.
1.7 Responses to the consultation indicate a degree of positive support, notably from but not limited to CJAs, for the concept of developing the scope of electronic monitoring. Many of the suggested areas for development and improvement reaffirmed the themes identified above.
1.8 A large number of respondents commented on the need for integration between different organisations and institutions and for specific services to integrate and interact more effectively. The importance of CJSW's involvement and role in a model of integrated services and information sharing was particularly widely noted.
GPS (satellite tracking)
1.9 Only a minority of respondents expressed support for a more widespread roll-out of GPS so that all currently monitored orders had an RF and GPS capability. The main theme in terms of rejecting a wider roll-out was that proportionality and/or targeting would be important.
1.10 Although, in general, there was support for the use of GPS technology in the monitoring of sex offenders, a number of respondents commented on the need for proportionality. A small number of respondents explicitly advised against seeking new legislative powers relating to GPS monitoring and sex offenders and there was wider comment that new legislation would be required to ensure appropriate consideration for human rights. There was majority support for new legislation to enforce GPS monitoring as a condition of Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPOs) amongst those respondents who commented specifically on this issue.
1.11 In relation to persistent offenders there was relatively widespread comment, once again, that the use of GPS monitoring should be part of a wider package of holistic support and the need to ensure a principle of proportionality was again cited. Views were somewhat mixed as to whether GPS monitoring should be further explored as part of a voluntary pilot of tagging persistent offenders. More respondents who commented on this issue expressed support than expressed opposition to the concept. Greater numbers of respondents expressed support than opposition for legislative backing for GPS monitoring of persistent offenders
1.12 With regard to GPS in relation to domestic abuse type offences, almost all respondents who commented envisaged GPS monitoring as potentially a useful tool in at least some domestic abuse circumstances, but most of these were also very wary about its widespread introduction. A range of possible drawbacks was cited as well as the need to integrate the technique with other tools and methodologies for dealing with domestic abuse cases. There was relatively widespread comment that the use of GPS monitoring for domestic abuse required legislative support.
1.13 Almost all respondents who commented were positive about the idea of electronic monitoring being used in some form with bail, though all wanted its use restricted to certain scenarios rather than invoked as a blanket tool. A majority of those commenting also felt that new legislative powers would need to be sought in this respect. Comments related to any kind of electronic monitoring rather than solely to GPS monitoring.
Remote Alcohol Monitoring
1.14 There was relatively widespread agreement that there may be a role for remote alcohol monitoring as an additional tool in a broader repertoire of measures to monitor and support offenders and potentially help reduce offending and deliver wider societal benefits. Linked to this, a majority of respondents who commented on this issue agreed that remote alcohol monitoring should be further explored; views were somewhat mixed as to whether this should be on a voluntary or compulsory basis.
Electronic Reminder Service
1.15 There were relatively disparate views as to whether a national criminal justice appointments reminder service should be introduced. The main themes that emerged in comments were consistent regardless of whether respondents agreed or disagreed, and related primarily to the cost effectiveness of a national service and the need for a national service.
Email: Susan Bulloch