Development of Electronic Monitoring in Scotland - Analysis of Consultation Responses

In September 2013, the Scottish Government embarked upon a period of consultation to examine options for the development of electronic monitoring in Scotland. This consultation sought views on the operation of the current electronic monitoring service as well as options for future development of the service.

4 GPS (Satellite Tracking)

4.1 The consultation paper explained how GPS technology works and went on to discuss its relative strengths and weaknesses. The paper identified the need to examine its possible uses and consider suggestions about what a GPS service might look like and what it may seek to do, taking into account factors such as, passive or active monitoring, legal considerations and some examples of possible uses.

4.2 The questions in this section look first at GPS to monitor sex offenders, then GPS in relation to monitoring of persistent offenders, followed by GPS relating to domestic abuse type offences and finally GPS in connection with bail. The section concludes with questions regarding a more widespread roll-out of GPS so that all currently monitored orders had an RF and GPS capability.

4.3 An important theme in comments at this section related to the need for more piloting and research work to get evidence about the effectiveness of GPS monitoring.

Sex Offenders

4.4 Question 5 asked: 'What, if any, role do you believe GPS monitoring should have for use with a sex offender cohort? Why?' Forty-one respondents commented.

4.5 In general, there was a degree of support for the use of GPS technology in the monitoring of sex offenders. The suggestion was that GPS monitoring might be helpful to monitor the general movements of the offender out-with curfew hours, thus providing some additional protection to the public.

4.6 Of the forty-one responses received at this question, eleven specifically commented on the risk of signal 'drift' as an issue for consideration. This was however, usually seen as a cautionary note and not necessarily a reason for exclusion of consideration of its use. One respondent, a local authority suggested that signal drift should not be considered a challenge to the use of GPS as it will become part of the knowledge and skills set for those supervising and monitoring those with a GPS monitor.

Perceived advantages of GPS monitoring

4.7 There were three main themes highlighted in the responses that marked advantages of using the technology. These were the ability to protect the public from sex offenders through creation of exclusion zones, improving public confidence and the use of GPS monitoring as an additional tool to Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

4.8 In addition to these, some respondents noted the ability afforded through use of GPS to build up an accurate picture of an offender's lifestyle, movements and routines - a local authority commented on the importance of this in light of the fact that many sex offenders spend considerable time grooming potential victims. For others, this was useful data in an offender's rehabilitation.

4.9 One local authority noted that exclusion is not an abolition of risk, as opportunities for offending may present in the most unlikely of ways, highlighting the need for additional support.

4.10 Several respondents commented on the benefits of the system in terms of offender management in addition to MAPPA. A private sector organisation highlighted the need for advances in monitoring technology on the basis of previous research. They suggested that agencies involved in MAPPA view electronic monitoring as a resource that offers additional robustness in the supervision and control of sex offenders, which they identified as a 'high risk group'. The private sector organisation felt that the limitations of radio frequency monitoring (that is, the inability to track movements) have, in some cases, led to agencies within MAPPA to commit additional resources to the supervision and surveillance of certain offenders. For example, voluntary organisations providing 24 hour supervision to offenders to help alleviate risk, or police increasing the level of physical monitoring to provide intelligence to the MAPPA group regarding the person's movements during certain times.

4.11 A partnership organisation added that GPS monitoring has the potential to reduce the burden on those classified as MAPPA level 3 offenders in the sense that they are currently subject to very expensive support packages. They felt that GPS has the potential to make MAPPA support potentially less intrusive for such individuals.

4.12 Two organisations - a partnership and an independent and professional body - argued that it is important however to ensure that - as an additional tool to MAPPA - GPS monitoring should not be seen as an automated mandate on the offenders, but rather each case should be assessed on the basis of its individual merits.

4.13 The most widely cited advantage of using GPS monitoring of sex offenders, as highlighted in the consultation document and indeed by a majority of responses, was the ability to create exclusion zones for the protection of the public. There was no other suggested alternative to monitoring an offender's adherence to orders imposed by the courts which include exclusion for certain zones outside of curfew times.

4.14 A private sector organisation suggested the use of a two-piece GPS device which could afford the ability to contact offenders with SMS messages or by calling them to notify of an approach to an exclusion zone.

4.15 Five responses, from three CJAs, a partnership and a third sector organisation, suggested the importance of GPS monitoring of sex offenders in improving public confidence in the system and in terms of their own security and protection. The partnership organisation did however suggest that it was important to note the danger of short benefits in terms of public confidence leading to over-use of GPS monitoring when not considered appropriate.

4.16 Many respondents noted the need to ensure that GPS monitoring, as with previous comments on electronic monitoring more generally, was not seen as a stand-alone measure and indeed formed part of a wider package of support and rehabilitation. Several noted the need to ensure that traditional modes of supervision and support - this was seen as particularly important on the basis GPS is not 100% accurate.

Disadvantages / risks of GPS monitoring

4.17 There were a number of cautionary notes attached to GPS monitoring of sex offenders - most significantly around the need to obey the principle of proportionality, the need to ensure data protection / privacy regulations and the potential risks to rehabilitation.

4.18 A significant number of responses highlighted the need to apply a principle of proportionality to ascribing GPS monitoring and that this should be reserved for high risk offenders. For some there was a view that it should only be applied when appropriate and lawful, i.e. when the risks dictate the need for additional rehabilitative support and that it must be managed within the aforementioned MAPPA framework. A local authority suggested that continuous monitoring must be directly linked to the risk and as such there needs to be consideration of what happens when the perceived risk level is lowered.

4.19 A public sector organisation suggested that GPS monitoring could be used in a 'targeted and judicious way' with sexual offenders and not as a general tool to reduce custody levels or as a blanket policy for those placed on the sex offenders register. They argued that the particularly low recidivism rates of the majority of sexual offenders should be noted and that monitoring the whereabouts of individuals 24 hours a day should be reserved for higher risk offenders generally and linked to high quality assessment. Their view was the GPS is best applied to particular sub-group, for example those who deliberately target children, by providing specific exclusion areas around schools and playgrounds.

4.20 An independent and professional body drew insight from international experience stating that experience with GPS monitoring in Germany suggests that if targeted ethically and appropriately, a population of the size of Scotland would have fewer than 10 extremely high risk offenders who require monitoring to the highest level in the community. They argued that for these individuals alone GPS would be a beneficial enhancement to an intensive and carefully coordinated individual management plan but that for the general sex offender population the research and evidence suggest it would prove impractical, inefficient on cost and possibly counterproductive.

4.21 A partnership organisation argued that proportionality is also important in light of the vast amounts of data that might be produced, suggesting that agencies might have to interpret the data in a meaningful way in the assessment of risk. This might raise issues for those who may have responsibility for resourcing in relation to analytical assessment. As such, they argued that live monitoring of data from GPS should only be applied to a limited few, based on an assessment of risk.

4.22 A number of respondents highlighted the need to consider privacy rights and Data Protection. A local authority suggested that continuous monitoring of behaviour infringes on human rights, whilst others argued that to mitigate against legal challenges there is a need to provide a clear legal framework for its use which can be agreed to.

4.23 A public sector body drew attention specifically to Data Protection Principles and stated that "The fourth Data Protection Principle requires personal data to be accurate and, where appropriate, up to date. It would be a concern if a GPS signal can 'drift' and misrepresent the position of the individual through no fault of their own when they are stationary". They also highlighted the particular risks associated with web-based monitoring of the data.

4.24 Two responses - from a local authority and a partnership - suggested that this argument might be counteracted with the potential for GPS to monitor offenders more accurately, which may well provide an opportunity to demonstrate compliance, reform and good behaviour.

4.25 A small number of responses highlighted potential risks to rehabilitation on the basis of GPS monitoring. A local authority suggested that the use of GPS tracking can put a burden on CJSWs which will affect support, arguing that: "… if this data were to come directly to CJSW for us to manage and interpret this could impact on the nature/quality of the relationship between the offender and social worker which evidence has shown is pivotal to any change process."

Should there be new legislative powers?

4.26 Question 6 asked: 'Should new legislative powers be sought (for example to cover SOPOs)? Why?'

4.27 Thirty-three consultation responses directly addressed Question 6 of the consultation document. Of these responses, only two specifically advised against seeking new legislative powers for the use of GPS electronic monitoring - a local authority and an independent and professional body (albeit others advised caution on specific issues).

4.28 A local authority suggested that seeking new legislative powers was not necessary on the basis that Sexual Offences Protection Orders (SOPOs) are used to good effect currently by the Police and that any consideration of extending electronic monitoring should be left to existing statutory orders.

4.29 An independent and professional body argued that legislation for anything as powerful and radical as a SOPO needs monitoring carefully and reviewing regularly. The concern was that there is already extensive powerful legislation that is based on public safety apparently being considered ahead of individual rights with 'unintended consequences'. They urged caution against legislation being created by the momentum of opportunity, rather than as a final resort and after much focused review of "what the status quo affords".

Legislation in the context of legal rights

4.30 Six respondents representing two partnership organisations, a local authority, a public sector organisation, an independent and professional body and a third sector organisation argued that new legislation is required for the use of GPS monitoring of sex offenders to ensure appropriate consideration is given to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) requirements, in addition to other legal rights and Data Protection.

GPS monitoring within SOPOs

4.31 A local authority and a public sector organisation suggested that any new legislation could guide and inform practice (in respect of Sheriff's) recognising that the use of remote electronic monitoring currently cannot be utilised within SOPOs in Scotland. Furthermore, the public sector organisation added that the use of such electronic monitoring should be an available disposal to the courts, Parole Board and MAPPA to allow for maximising use of the technology in an appropriately tiered response.

4.32 Three respondents, a third sector organisation, partnership and public sector organisation suggested that Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) would be required when GPS monitoring is enforced within this new legislation.

4.33 There was widespread discussion about the merits of new legislation to enforce GPS monitoring as a condition of SOPOs with a majority supporting the concept, albeit with some caveats.

4.34 Nine responses suggested that legislation is required to ensure effective enforcement of SOPOs and that offenders are abiding by the restrictions imposed on them through the orders. Three CJAs commented on the fact that SOPOs are applied for when the Police have concerns about the dangers posed by specific sex offenders and others recognised that the orders are a Police-led and administered enforcement. The perception for some was the Police force is limited in their available recourses to monitor and therefore GPS tagging could ease the burden.

4.35 Two responses, one from a local authority and another from a partnership suggested that GPS monitoring could be an automatic condition of SOPOs, whilst others felt it could simply be an option rather than an automatic condition.

4.36 Five respondents suggested that any legislative mechanism that allowed SOPO's to include GPS tracking could reduce some of the risks to the community. A partnership organisation added that: "Having to comply with conditions of a SOPO has proved to be a useful deterrent and reinforcement for some sex offenders but, as with comments above, it is more effective to have a range of interventions in order to support behaviour change".

4.37 There were a number of cautionary notes attached to the idea of adding GPS monitoring as an option within SOPOs. A local authority questioned what would need to be put in place to resource and manage this on a day-to-day basis from a police perspective, arguing that at present, Police Offender Management Units do not monitor or manage any enforcement of electronic monitoring and this would be additional work. Additionally, they felt that SOPOs are difficult to obtain post-conviction due to the strict criteria that needs to be met through the civil court process and this needs to be considered.

4.38 The need for regular review was highlighted by two partnership organisations, a local authority and an independent and professional body. They felt that as SOPOs are usually a five year order, there would be a need to regularly review the conditions of monitoring during this time and that it should not exceed the duration of the SOPO itself.

Young people and SOPOs

4.39 An academic institution highlighted concerns about SOPOs and GPS monitoring stating that MAPPA arrangements are relevant to a small number of young people under the age of 18 who have committed serious sexual offences and it is likely that it is from within this small cohort that any Police applications for SOPOs or court SOPOs would arise. As to whether SOPOs might incorporate electronic monitoring in some fashion in the future, they felt that the availability of such restrictive legislative powers to the courts and Police where young people under the age of 18 are concerned may merit a broader discussion in relation terms of fairness, proportionality and children's rights.

4.40 As in previous questions, a wide range of respondents highlighted the need to consider all of this in the context of proportionality.

Other views on the use of GPS with sex offenders

4.41 Question 7 asked 'What, if any, other views do you have on use of GPS with sex offenders that are not covered in the questions above?'

4.42 There were 27 direct responses to this question. Whilst some of these respondents simply sought to add their general support for the use of GPS monitoring for sexual offenders, the majority added some level of support with caveats attached, aligning with much of what has already been covered in the preceding questions in this section.

4.43 For example, several respondents added weight to the suggestion of the need for some degree of proportionality to be a condition of GPS monitoring for the most serious / high risk sex offenders, with some noting the relatively low levels of recidivism amongst sex offenders generally. A local authority suggested that a balance needs to be struck between meeting the needs of the public and managing sex offenders within their communities. Another local authority added that there could be a new form of classification for those sex offenders for whom GPS monitoring may be included. Two partnership organisations and an independent and professional body argued that some form of risk assessment should be standard practice to determine the necessary enforcement of GPS tagging.

The need for further evidence

4.44 A number of respondents argued that before new legislative powers are sought, there is a need to conduct a pilot study of enforcement to ensure legality, appropriateness of the enforcement and administrative challenges emerging.

4.45 A third sector organisation argued that the evidence for the effectiveness of GPS monitoring of sex offenders is currently uncertain. They drew reference to three specific studies and the relatively ambiguous evidence emerging. The evaluation of the Californian Supervision project which targeted 516 high risk sexual offenders between 2006 and 2009 showed considerably better outcomes in both parole compliance and both sexual and non-sexual recidivism (Gies et al., 2012) for the GPS group, (although the base rate for sexual recidivism was generally low in this study). However a study of 900 sexual offender parolees in Tennessee where 490 were tracked via GPS monitoring and the remainder assigned to a control group found no statistical difference in outcomes between the two groups (Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole, 2007). They concluded that studies of effectiveness of GPS tracking and sexual offenders to date have been hampered by an already documented low base rate of sexual recidivism, short follow up studies and lack of transparency around data, quoting a third study reported by Meloy and Coleman (2009).

4.46 As such, they and several other respondents argued that there is a need to assess further evidence and, importantly, to pilot a study in Scotland specifically.

Concerns around the media

4.47 A number of respondents highlighted concerns about the role of the media in discussing GPS monitoring of sex offenders. Their concern was the media needs to be handled on the basis of concerns that they will see GPS monitoring as exclusive to sex offenders and indeed this is likely to gain the greatest level of attraction in media coverage. Furthermore, this could cause concerns over enforcement and those who do not have GPS monitoring as a condition of their retribution.

Package of support

4.48 A consistent theme throughout the responses reinforced the need for electronic monitoring to be part of a wider package of support and indeed this question was no different. Furthermore, several respondents added that on this basis there was a need to clarify the specific role to be played by CJSW and other agencies.

4.49 An independent and professional body suggested that this is a necessity because GPS technology might show where an offender is, but not what they are doing. They added that in Germany, where this system is used, there is a huge investment in social work time to provide the right level of service and professional input to each case, alongside the GPS monitoring and other control measures. There, it is not considered appropriate to use GPS without that level of social work input and social workers are relieved of other cases to allow them the time to provide this intensive input and assessment.

4.50 A small number of other considerations were mentioned in response to Question 7, namely:

  • Use of GPS may serve to save on the resources required to deliver 24/7 Intensive Support Packages (3 mentions);
  • Further discussion is required around making use of GPS as part of SOPOs (1 mention);
  • GPS monitoring only reported in the consultation in the context of sentences of 4 years or more, consideration should be given to shorter sentences (1 mention);
  • The limitations of GPS need to be considered in all activity and decisions (1 mention).

Persistent Offenders: Voluntary pilot

4.51 The next three questions in this section of the consultation paper looked at GPS in relation to persistent offenders. Question 8 asked: 'Should GPS monitoring be further explored as part of a voluntary pilot of tagging persistent offenders? Why?'

4.52 Thirty-eight consultation responses directly addressed this question, including a wide variety of comments in support or opposition to the idea of a voluntary pilot. On balance, support was more prevalent, with 22 responses showing favour for a voluntary pilot, compared with nine responses in opposition - seven responses did not directly offer support or opposition.

Support for a voluntary pilot

4.53 In total, ten responses declared their outright support for the introduction of a voluntary pilot of GPS monitoring in Scotland. This view was represented by three third sector organisations, two health boards, two local authorities, one public sector organisation, one independent and professional body and one private sector organisation.

4.54 In general, support for the pilot was given on the basis of the perception that persistent offenders were the most important audience for such a scheme, as mentioned by four respondents. An additional four respondents offered support due to the perceived need to pilot any changes in the legislation and ensure success on a wider legislative roll out.

4.55 A local authority and a third sector organisation suggested that their support was based on the fact that it is persistent offenders who are at the highest risk of reoffending and therefore this would be a beneficial exercise.

4.56 A private sector organisation commented on pilots in England stating that: "From our experience of working with Norfolk & Suffolk Probation Trust, it has proved the use of GPS tagging on prolific offenders can produce good results even within the boundaries of a voluntary pilot."

4.57 There was also an argument, as put forward by an independent and professional body that a voluntary pilot is necessary to avoid damaging confidence of sentencers or communities in the justice system.

4.58 Twelve other responses declared support for the idea of a pilot but with cautionary notes or caveats attached. These comprised three CJAs, two local authorities, two public sector bodies, two independent and professional bodies, a private sector organisation, an academic institution and a partnership organisation.

4.59 One of the most widely cited objections amongst those supportive of the principle, was due to the perceived lack of success of the Hertfordshire pilot as referenced in the consultation document. As a counter to this however, one local authority argued that the results from this pilot suggest that persistent offenders can be motivated to comply because GPS can rule them out of investigations and demonstrate their motivation to desist. It also suggests GPS gives them a legitimate excuse not to associate with offending peers. In addition, they argued that it enables agencies to monitor patterns of movement and provide relevant supervision that reduces risk. In practical terms, they suggest that it was important to note that the reminder telephone calls to charge battery again suggests there is a necessity in most cases for some level of supervision or support to get the most from the exercise. A voluntary pilot in the Scottish context was seen as something that would assist learning.

4.60 A public sector organisation stated their support in principle, but that they would have a greater preference for a mandatory pilot. Some respondents also wished to reiterate the need for the pilot to be part of a much wider and more in-depth package of support for the offender.

4.61 Despite support at a conceptual level, reservations about a voluntary pilot were registered in the context of doubt over the success of such an activity. Three CJAs, a local authority and a partnership organisation commented that there were concerns over the nature of the pilot. This was on the basis of a voluntary activity with no sanctions could lead to a high attrition rate, as demonstrated in the above pilot, referenced in the consultation document. The knock-on effect of this would be ineffective or inaccurate reporting and therefore they felt that sanctions for non-compliance would be required.

4.62 Four responses, three from CJAs, and one from a partnership, commented that a pilot may be more effective if female offenders are the subjects. As the partnership's response noted: "…the recent Women's Commission Report, the current numbers of women offenders with children and the recent investment in services working with women offenders it may be worthwhile piloting GPS monitoring with a female cohort. Positive outcomes would hopefully include not only a cessation of offending, but enhancement of family relations".

Opposition to voluntary pilot scheme

4.63 Nine responses felt that a voluntary pilot scheme was not advisable - seven responses offered a straightforward 'no', whilst two added caveats to their responses.

4.64 For those saying no, all cited the perceived failure of the Hertforshire pilot study as the reason for doing so and one, a partnership organisation - argued that they had reservations over the definition of the term 'persistent reoffending' which was open to incorrect interpretation.

4.65 Those offering a 'no', albeit with caveats, also cited the perceived lack of success in Hertfordshire, whilst recognising the potential benefits of undertaking such an exercise. An independent and professional body added that GPS can only be ethically and effectively used for the top end of the "critical few" very high risk offenders. Therefore they suggest that it is difficult to envisage a way in which it would be appropriate for such offenders to participate in a "voluntary" pilot.

4.66 Three respondents - an academic institution, a partnership organisation and an independent and professional body - registered concerns over the likelihood of attaining informed consent, particularly in light of the pilot group, i.e. persistent offenders.

Persistent Offenders: Other considerations

4.67 Those commenting but not necessarily explicitly declaring support or opposition added some additional considerations. For some there was a suggestion that enough pilots have been conducted and data could be extrapolated from these to make an informed decision. Others added that the use of a voluntary pilot could be beneficial for offenders in that it provides them with an excuse to opt out of deviant activity and reoffending.

4.68 There was also a suggestion that the proposed pilot offers no incentive to the volunteers and this should be amended to increase take-up.

Persistent Offenders: Legislatively backed basis

4.69 Question 9 asked: 'Should GPS monitoring of persistent offenders be further explored on a legislatively (as opposed to voluntary) backed basis? Why?'

4.70 In total, 37 responses addressed this question and the majority of these were in support of the suggestion that GPS monitoring of persistent offenders should be explored further on a legislative basis. Twenty-four responses declared support for this suggestion and six were opposed; those remaining offered comment without explicit support or opposition.

Support for a legislatively backed pilot

4.71 Fourteen respondents gave outright support for the further exploration of a legislatively backed pilot - represented by three local authorities, three CJAs, three other public sector organisations, two private sector organisations, one Health Board, one third sector organisation and a partnership. The majority argued that approaching the task in this way, with sanctions for non-compliance was more likely to reduce attrition rates and therefore produce better quality data and information. The CJAs commented specifically that the high attrition rate seen in voluntary pilots could be significantly lower if primary legislation is introduced around compulsory requirements and sanction for non-compliance.

4.72 A local authority added that a legislative basis could offer a more realistic reflection of how offenders might respond when consequences for non-compliance and poor behaviour are enforced. Another local authority commented that if GPS monitoring is a consideration to manage persistent offenders, in terms of acquiring offenders in complying with this condition, it may have more successful outcomes if there is legislative backing and is used as an integrated / collaborative approach to deal with offender criminogenic needs. The respondent also commented that it might be considered as a more meaningful deterrent to encourage the offender to desist from reoffending.

4.73 Another local authority commented on the importance of persistent offenders, suggesting that they are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime and typically present high level of risk and associated needs, often linked with substance misuse. A statutory requirement to comply with GPS as part of a community sentence could appear balanced and defensible.

4.74 Two responses argued that a legislative backed pilot should take place on the back of voluntary pilots.

4.75 Ten other responses offered support for a legislatively backed pilot but with cautionary notes or caveats. These were five local authorities, four partnership organisations and an academic institution. There was a strong view that the principle of proportionality should apply and indeed that more evidence was required to justify widened use of the approach. There was further support highlighted here by two responses that this should still take place subsequent to a voluntary initial pilot.

4.76 A partnership organisation argued that there are numerous crime types applicable to recidivist offenders and the assessment of those cases where GPS could and should be applied would have to take consideration of resources to monitor and the level and seriousness of offending taking place.

4.77 A local authority added that they would be interested in this being tested out and would support pilot programmes for persistent offenders encompassing two similar cohorts of offenders - one subject to electronic restriction and the other without a curfew restriction.

4.78 Finally, a partnership argued that legislative use of GPS monitoring for persistent offenders could offer some theoretical benefits and incentives including being able to timeously rule out some persistent offenders from police enquiries. Sanctions for noncompliance would need to be clearly stated and robustly enforced to ensure that GPS monitoring contributed directly to detection of crime/non-compliance with community-based supervision. They suggest that this would need, however, to be balanced against the cost of such a scheme and the measurable contribution to safer communities that such a scheme would offer.

Opposition to legislatively backed pilot

4.79 A local authority noted their opposition and suggested that persistent offenders are likely to have received every disposal available to the courts and Procurator Fiscal already, including electronic monitoring. The local authority argued that a legislative approach for this group seems unlikely to result in anything but a rise in breach of applications.

4.80 An independent and professional body suggested that the English Police and Crime Commissioners, who have been supportive from the outset of using GPS tracking on persistent offenders, have been campaigning quite stridently for a shift from a voluntary to a legally compulsory basis for using this technology. This was seen as a measure to increase the numbers of offenders on it, including recalcitrant offenders who would not otherwise volunteer. This led the response to oppose the measure.

4.81 It was noted by another independent and professional organisation that persistent offenders are a very wide constituency. The majority are considered to present low-risk of harm to the community, and petty acquisition is their main aim, often associated with substance abuse or addiction problems. For this reason, the organisation opposed the GPS monitoring on the basis of persistency arguing that it would be counterproductive.

4.82 Additionally, there was a suggestion that until such time as the experiment with the GPS monitoring system as a whole has been successfully tested, legislation cannot be based on fact. The risk of failure was seen as too great and the resultant delays in redrafting legislation would be counterproductive.

Further views

4.83 Question 10 asked: 'Have you any further views on either other potential voluntary uses of GPS or use of GPS with persistent offenders?' Twenty-five responses addressed this question.

4.84 The most common theme related to the need to ensure that GPS monitoring with persistent offenders is delivered in the context of a wider package of holistic support. As one partnership put it, "GPS linked to effective planning and partnerships poses great potential". A local authority felt that it could only be effective if used as part of a risk management plan with those who pose the highest risks to communities of reoffending. Additionally, a public sector organisation felt that the use of curfews and electronic monitoring in isolation is not a universal remedy; whereas electronic monitoring used in conjunction with rehabilitation mechanisms delivered via a multi-agency approach have the greatest potential to facilitate a reduction in reoffending.

4.85 Four respondents argued that there was a need to ensure a principle of proportionality, as per previous questions. An independent and professional body went further to suggest that the pilot in England, where the police use of voluntary GPS tracking - pending its potential mutation into something compulsory - was seen as implicitly tied to a much larger government strategy to use GPS tracking on a vast scale, perhaps to normalise its use with thousands of persistent offenders. They and others highlighted concern that the Scottish Government should not be considering following this example. Their view was that GPS tracking should have small-scale, niche uses with some offenders for some of their periods of supervision, arguing that there is no defensible ethical case for using it on all persistent offenders.

4.86 A series of other individual comments were received, namely:

  • A need to consider initial piloting on female offenders;
  • Rejection of piloting use of GPS instead searching existing evidence to make informed decisions;
  • Consideration of remote alcohol monitoring as an additional concurrent measure;
  • A review of the term 'persistent offender' to avoid misinterpretation;
  • Partnering with local authorities and statutory and third sector organisations who are developing persistent offender programmes of their own;
  • More of a role for GPS on less serious crimes but has multiple social problems.

Domestic abuse type offences

4.87 Questions 11 and 12 focused on GPS monitoring in relation to domestic abuse and question 11 asked: 'What, if any, role do you believe GPS monitoring should have for use with domestic abuse type offences? Why?' Thirty-eight respondents addressed this question.

4.88 Almost all respondents that 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. These respondents cited a range of possible drawbacks as well as the need to integrate the technique with other tools and methodologies for dealing with domestic abuse cases.

4.89 Most respondents discussed possible roles which could be undertaken by GPS monitoring, largely in general terms, but a minority also focused on the tool as a means for reinforcement of specific court rulings. The majority saw GPS in terms of possible benefits to victims of domestic abuse and indeed almost half (eighteen) of the respondents to the question saw it as a tool to enhance victim protection. A few of these respondents mentioned the benefits of having real time information and the added possibility of an immediate emergency response to possible threats to a victim's safety.

4.90 Fourteen respondents saw the potential for GPS to enable bigger exclusion and / or restriction areas for offenders away from their victims than is currently the case, including in areas away from the victim's home. Furthermore, five respondents specified the possibility of creating a warning or "buffer" zone around victims as an additional aid to stop offenders getting too close to their victims.

"We believe that GPS monitoring has the potential to provide extra protection for victims, as the use of GPS would enable extension of monitoring to cover the victims themselves without restriction to specific geographical locations"
(third sector)

4.91 Amongst a minority of respondents who specified the possible roles of GPS monitoring with regard to court decisions about individuals, the largest number (eight) recommended that it should be used only in the management of the highest risk cases (e.g. repeat offenders, higher tariff offenders, stalkers). Respondents also suggested its use in the following domestic abuse scenarios:

  • Enforcement of bail conditions (four respondents);
  • Compliance with non-harassment orders (three respondents);
  • Compulsory supervision cases (one respondent).

4.92 Around half of the respondents suggested reasons for their choices of possible roles for GPS monitoring. The greatest number (six) pinpointed the apparent precision of GPS monitoring, in that it might enable the mapping of offender movements as opposed to merely knowing whether or not the offender was in close proximity to his or her victim. Several (five) noted that GPS could act as an early warning system for victims. Four respondents thought that the monitoring of abuser behaviour could be an aid to help the abuser to make different behavioural choices. Four respondents cited evidence from other countries which have trialled or implemented the technology relating to the benefits of GPS monitoring to victims.

4.93 A majority of respondents posed possible problems with the use of GPS, although none dismissed the tool out of hand. Ten respondents were in favour of seeing evidence that it worked first, in the form of trialling or testing or piloting the technology.

4.94 Two respondents saw limitations or unreliability of the GPS technology (e.g. around high buildings, battery life) as problematic. Five respondents thought a higher priority in domestic abuse cases should be to focus on changing the behaviour of offenders, with two regarding GPS as a waste of resources, particularly regarding a foreseen requirement for 24/7 monitoring.

4.95 A number of respondents also cited potential problems for victims if GPS is used. Five respondents foresaw additional stresses for domestic abuse victims, in relation to the impact of information or alerts about the movements of the offender, with five respondents drawing attention to the requirement for the victim to be monitored as well, which could be seen as a restriction on their own movements as opposed to those of the offender.

4.96 On the other side of the coin, five respondents foresaw problems stemming from an offender taking advantage of the GPS equipment as a means to control victims, perhaps by repeatedly testing the limits of the exclusion area.

4.97 Most of the respondents, including those most favourably disposed towards the use of GPS, put forward provisos in the use of the technology, in the following forms:

  • GPS monitoring should not be used as a standalone approach, but as part of a multi agency and multi tool package used to treat offenders (eleven respondents);
  • GPS monitoring usage and testing should be broadened for use with other offenders such as alcohol abusers, stalkers and fire raisers, rather than confined to domestic abuse (eight respondents);
  • There needs to be victim involvement and consultation in any application of GPS monitoring (eleven respondents).

"While undoubtedly there will be a number of technological, financial and legislative concerns to be addressed, the most important consideration must be to alleviate any anxieties and concerns the victim may have in the use (and associated alerts) of the system. Appropriate consent, support and safety measures must be discussed and implemented prior to the commencement of any restrictions."
(other public sector)

Further views

4.98 Question 12 asked: 'Have you any other views on the use of GPS for domestic abuse on either a voluntary or a legislatively backed use?' Thirty- two respondents made comments in response to this question.

4.99 The overwhelming majority of respondents who commented were of the view that the use of GPS monitoring for domestic abuse required legislative support. Amongst this majority, almost all made the case that GPS monitoring would be unlikely to be effective under voluntary use only. In fact, only a small number of respondents envisaged any role for its use on a voluntary basis, even with legislative back up.

4.100 Many respondents went on to explain very clearly their reasoning for perceiving GPS monitoring to be effective only with legislative support, giving a variety of scenarios and situations as examples. Other respondents who were potentially in favour of a role for GPS expressed concerns by drawing attention to potential drawbacks in applying the tool to real life situations, whether backed by legislation or not. A few respondents made other comments, most of which tended to centre on the need for more evidence of effectiveness in the form of testing or piloting before any sort of large scale implementation of GPS monitoring in domestic abuse cases could take place.

4.101 Nine respondents made the case that only legislation could give a clear back up to GPS usage, in order to make clear there would be consequences in the case of offender breach, and to help ensure compliance with court orders. Four respondents stated explicitly that new or altered legislation would be necessary in order for this to happen.

"We believe that in order to enforce GPS monitoring in a consistent fashion, and to de-escalate the pressure on victims who are seen to be consenting to an order which will affect the perpetrator, that new legislation should be sought. This would help legitimise the process of monitoring and ensure that decision making by those in authority takes precedence over consent."
(private sector)

4.102 Among those giving examples of potentially effective usage of GPS on a legislatively backed basis, the following scenarios were given:

  • Tracking of offenders and / or restricting their movements or imposing an exclusion zone (five respondents);
  • As part of a victim safety plan (enabling automatic or early alerts, etc.) (four respondents);
  • Making evidence gathering in relation to an offender admissible (two respondents);
  • Addressing the risk of serious harm to victims (two respondents).

4.103 Four respondents added that GPS monitoring could be an extra tool in addition to the other processes used to deal with domestic abuse cases, rather than as a stand-alone method.

4.104 There were a small minority of respondents (four) who envisaged GPS monitoring as having some voluntary applications (though none without additional legislative back up). Two of these could envision a voluntary role purely at the pilot or testing stage of GPS monitoring. An independent and professional body respondent suggested that the option of carrying a receiver or alarm should be voluntary for the victim, but it should be mandatory for the offender if the victim refused.

4.105 Around half of the respondents to the question envisaged potential problems with the use of GPS monitoring in various situations. In particular, a large number (ten) were concerned that offenders could manipulate or exploit the GPS system to harass the victim, perhaps by repeatedly entering or leaving exclusion or warning zones, or finding out where the victim was situated. A major concern for eight respondents was the possible impact of victim restrictions, leading to fears about monitoring impacting victim wellbeing. Small numbers of respondents questioned the ability of services to provide a rapid response to an early warning or alert system, and raised the specific possibility of offenders discovering safe houses when victims had been located to them for their safety.

4.106 Amongst other comments made by respondents were:

  • More testing / piloting / evidence finding required regarding GPS monitoring effectiveness (five respondents);
  • Using GPS in other areas (e.g. alcohol monitoring) (2 respondents);
  • Use GPS for bail enforcement only;
  • Due weight should also be given to the impact on partners and children of
    persons subjected to GPS (one respondent each).


4.107 Question 13 asked: 'What, if any, role do you believe GPS monitoring should have for use with bail? Why?' Forty-one respondents made comments that addressed this question.

4.108 Almost all respondents who commented were positive about the idea of GPS monitoring being used in some form with bail, though all wanted its use restricted to certain scenarios rather than invoked as a blanket tool. Most respondents posited a variety of provisos or requirements that would need to be met in order for GPS monitoring to be implemented. A small minority were against the idea of using GPS monitoring with bail in any circumstances.

4.109 By far the most frequently mentioned potential roles for GPS monitoring were in two areas: those of women offenders (nine respondents) and victim and/or witness protection and safety (eight respondents). In the case of women offenders, the main advantage was seen as reducing the female remand population by increasing the number of women given bail, particularly as relatively few women on remand end up being convicted. It was however noted by several respondents, notably some of the CJAs, that there were already other aids, supports, alternatives to remand and bail arrangements currently being developed and utilised which may be more effective.

"The well documented problem with the small number of women offenders on remand, who eventually go on to be convicted, would be an area that the CJAs would welcome development in addressing. Using EM as part of the whole package of supported bail, whilst linking in with the Shine PSP amongst others, would be an area to explore. Victim and witness protection would benefit from GPS EM bail. As with all areas the key is to give greater reassurance of public safety and increased confidence in the system."
(Community Justice Authority)

4.110 Smaller number of respondents focused on specific types of bail scenarios and court orders where it was envisaged that GPS could play a useful role, including:

  • Evidence for breach of bail cases (three respondents);
  • Bail conditions where intensive supervision or special monitoring is required (three respondents);
  • Cases involving alcohol monitoring (two respondents);
  • Bail conditions where exclusion or restriction of movement requirements exist (two respondents);
  • Domestic abuse bail conditions (one respondent);
  • Bail conditions where the offender is under curfew (one respondent);
  • Bail cases dealt with under solemn proceedings (one respondent).

4.111 A small number of respondents (three) recommended GPS use in high tariff or high risk of violence cases, though one of these specified only in high risk cases where bail was otherwise justified. One respondent added that GPS monitoring could enable an extended range of offences and offenders to be eligible for bail. One respondent however said that it should only ever be used in low risk cases.

4.112 Respondents gave a large number of reasons and advantages for the potential use of GPS as part of bail. The greatest number (six) gave the possibility of reducing the remand population, as bail would be a more feasible alternative in some cases. Five respondents foresaw a saving of resources in terms of police, social work or court work.

4.113 Four respondents saw an opportunity to use GPS monitoring as a tool to help reintegrate offenders into the community while on bail, as part of a support package or offender rehabilitation package, and two respondents hoped GPS usage would reduce reoffending. The benefits of being able to monitor and locate offenders on bail, particularly with reference to proximity to exclusion zones, were also pointed out by four respondents. Similarly, two respondents postulated a positive effect on bail compliance, and one hoped it would act as a deterrent to breach.

4.114 Small numbers of respondents also mentioned the following potential advantages which could emanate from the use of GPS:

  • GPS could give an extra option, in between being in custody and remaining unmonitored in the community (two respondents);
  • GPS could give an opportunity to introduce alerts or early notifications regarding offenders on bail (two respondents);
  • GPS could remove strain from serious cases (one respondent);
  • GPS could be tailored to individual circumstances (one respondent).

4.115 Most of the respondents cited either problem areas or further work that needed to be done before GPS monitoring was implemented for use with bail. A large number (nine) cited the need for more piloting and research work to get evidence about its effectiveness. Some respondents were specific about the areas requiring more work and knowledge:

  • Community safety issues (three respondents);
  • Justiciary issues (confidence of the justiciary, etc.) (three respondents);
  • Cost implications (two respondents);
  • Implementation of effective and speedy systems regarding breach (two respondents).

4.116 A few respondents raised legal issues and requirements. Two respondents noted that new legislation would be needed prior to implementation, and single respondents said there was a need for improvements to existing arrangements, and asked why the tagging as a bail condition pilot ended in 2010[2]. One respondent also commented that there may be human rights ramifications in tracking non-convicted persons.

4.117 Several (six) respondents reinforced that GPS needed to be introduced as part of an overall package, rather than as a stand alone tool. A further four respondents were in favour of the introduction of GPS monitoring as long as it was proportionate and not introduced as standard. Two respondents were adamant that it should not be used to provide an alternative to remand.

4.118 Small number of respondents also made the following points:

  • GPS monitoring could be resource intensive (e.g. the need to keep track of a live feed, adds complexity) (three respondents);
  • Radio frequency would do the monitoring job well in many instances (two respondents);
  • It could be inappropriate for some women (chaotic lives, etc.) (two respondents);
  • Curfew time could be taken off time served, in cases where a custodial sentence was finally imposed (one respondent).

4.119 There were a small minority of respondents who foresaw no role for GPS monitoring with bail. Two respondents suggested that it was unsuitable for high risk offenders or those who shouldn't be on bail anyway, while two respondents thought the current bail supervision scheme worked well and needed no alteration. Finally, one respondent pointed out that a determined offender would simply cut off a GPS tag to avoid tracking.

Preferred use of GPS for bail and legislative powers

4.120 Question 14 asked: 'With reference to your answer above, do you believe your preferred use of GPS for bail can be covered within existing legal powers or should new legislative powers be sought?' Thirty-five respondents made comments in response to this question.

4.121 Of the thirty-five respondents answering this question, all but four expressly stated that new legislative powers would need to be sought to cover GPS usage for bail. There were no respondents who claimed that their preferred use of GPS for bail could be covered within existing legal powers. Of the four respondents who did not overtly state that new powers would be needed, two tended to be in favour of sticking to the current bail arrangements with no perceived need for GPS, one was unsure about the need for new legal powers and one regarded it as a matter for the legislators.

4.122 A large number of respondents (twelve) said that no powers currently existed to impose any kind of electronic monitoring with bail. Four respondents went on to comment that the relevant sections of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 which previously included the legislative basis for electronic monitoring with bail were repealed by the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. Three CJA respondents however welcomed the Scottish Governments acceptance of recommendations made by the Commission on Women Offenders to examine the use of electronic monitoring as a condition of bail.

4.123 A few respondents mentioned provisos in relation to GPS monitoring. Three respondents were concerned that there was a danger of overuse of GPS monitoring by courts in cases where bail might be granted, and two others said more testing or piloting would be needed on GPS monitoring before bringing in any legislation.

4.124 Relatively few respondents went on to clarify the nature of what they believed new legislation should cover. Two respondents thought that full account needed to be taken of human rights or civil liberties. Two respondents stated that any new legislation should include all aspects of electronic monitoring, rather than just GPS, and two respondents suggested that new legislative scope should be clearly defined.

4.125 Single respondents made the following points about legislative coverage for GPS monitoring for bail:

  • GPS tracking and electronic monitoring need to be distinguished, in terms of the circumstances in which each might be used, the daily time limits and overall duration which apply to them and the uses to which any gathered data might be put, and by whom, over what retention period;
  • New powers could address issues such as witness intimidation, failing to attend for reports or the commission of further offences;
  • Cross-reference is needed to the Children's Hearing Act 2013;
  • What the impact would be on CJSW and other colleagues and how compliance and any sanctions would be managed;
  • If GPS monitoring in pursued as a condition of bail, then the sentencing conditions must be mandatory;
  • Legislation would need to be amended to include GPS in the type of equipment and monitoring method;
  • Restricted penalties would be needed for non-compliance;
  • Could include an additional supervision requirement.

Other views on electronic monitoring and bail

4.126 Question 15 invited respondents to give any other views they had on electronic monitoring and bail. Twenty-one respondents made comments in response to this question.

4.127 There were more respondents who raised questions and concerns than who made general positive comments about electronic monitoring and bail. A number specified areas for which electronic monitoring could be used whilst others pinpointed requirements which they thought needed to be put in place before it could be used.

4.128 Several respondents focused on the possible benefits electronic monitoring could bring, mostly making general comments, rather than focusing on a specific area. Amongst the positives mentioned were:

  • Offender benefits (rehabilitation, minimised disruption to family life, etc.) (four respondents);
  • Victim and witness safety (three respondents);
  • Cost savings (three respondents);
  • Single respondents also mentioned resource savings and support for compliance with bail.

4.129 Six respondents suggested that electronic monitoring should only be used in specific cases and required targeting towards certain individuals on a case by case basis. Two respondents thought electronic monitoring should be used on high risk cases only, for example violent, sexual or domestic abuse offences.

4.130 Amongst the requirements thought necessary to be met prior to the introduction of electronic monitoring for bail were the following:

  • Legal issues (alignment with current law, etc.) (three respondents);
  • A balanced approach with other interventions (i.e. electronic monitoring should not be looked on as a replacement for current good practice) (two respondents);
  • Immediate responsiveness in terms of real time on behalf of services (one respondent);
  • Training for local authority criminal justice workers (one respondent);
  • IT and accurate recording systems to be in place (one respondent).

4.131 Most respondents had a variety of concerns and questions about how electronic monitoring and bail would work. A high number (eight) were concerned about the widespread usage of electronic monitoring for bail becoming the norm.

"There is a danger that if bail with GPS tracking is introduced and used widely it will simply become a way of sucking more offenders into an up tariff measure resulting in more expense and pressures on limited resources."
(Community Justice Authority)

4.132 Two of these respondents suggested that to prevent overuse, electronic monitoring could be targeted towards those who might otherwise have been remanded, rather than as a means of strengthening the conditions of bail for offenders who could have been bailed in any case. Five respondents however took the alternative view that electronic monitoring should not be an alternative to remand, and four of these respondents went on to point out that electronic monitoring wouldn't be a solution to the ever increasing remand population.

"Whilst some may see this as an alternative to remand this is not viewed as a realistic position from a resource perspective and the use of GPS should only be considered in specific cases. There will be a requirement for clear guidance on the suitability of individuals and risk before consideration of bail."

4.133 Smaller numbers of respondents had reservations about various unknowns, including:

  • Queries about resource usage (four respondents);
  • Queries about expenses and costs (three respondents);
  • Data usage and protection (e.g. whether electronic monitoring data could be admissible as evidence) (three respondents);
  • Queries about using GPS rather than RF, where RF is sufficient in many cases (two respondents);
  • Whether sentence remissions would be applied for electronically monitored offenders in cases where they were eventually convicted (two respondents).

4.134 Five respondents made suggestions as to the format of pilots for electronic monitoring of bail, all of which involved using individuals currently on bail anyway.

4.135 Other comments made by only one respondent were as follows:

  • A preference for bail supervision procedures as currently run, rather than electronic monitoring;
  • The potential for offenders to incur 'technical' breaches rather than any breach relating to a further offence and the impact this might have on the totality of the work involved in the bail process and ultimately custody rates;
  • An urge for same day reports to be available as to suitability for bail as current report waiting times are causing many upheavals for offenders.

GPS use for all existing electronic monitored orders

4.136 Question 16 asked 'Would you support a more widespread roll-out of GPS so that all currently monitored orders had an RF and GPS capability? Why?' Thirty-four respondents commented directly on this question.

4.137 The majority of respondents who commented did not think this was appropriate; 22 respondents in all opposed the 'blanket' GPS monitoring approach, compared with seven who would support the move. Five respondents felt it was inconclusive whether or not a blanket approach was appropriate or not.

Reasons for opposing a more widespread approach to GPS monitoring

4.138 The 22 respondents who indicated a lack of support for the wider roll out of GPS beyond the specific groups highlighted and discussed earlier in the consultation document, comprised nine local authorities, five other independent and professional bodies, three CJAs, two private sector organisations, one partnership organisation, one other public sector organisations and one third sector organisation.

4.139 The most widely cited reason - mentioned by all but four of these 22 respondents was based on the perceived need to apply the principle of proportionality - or targeting - whereby only certain subsets of offenders should have the technology applied to them. This was based mostly on the offenders at highest risk of reoffending already discussed in the consultation document. As one local authority stated: "There is a place for judicious use of GPS monitoring, particularly in sensitive cases such as sexual offending, stalking, serious violence and particularly with young people through the Children's Hearing system".

4.140 A private sector organisation added: "The principle of proportionality leads to a logical conclusion that GPS should be used in cases where public protection is paramount and where the risk of reoffending is assessed as very high. Current resources committed by MAPPA groups fall short in providing a completely robust solution to manage risk, and the use of GPS will add to the resources available".

4.141 The suggestion that GPS monitoring was more applicable when members of the public are at risk was shared by many.

4.142 A local authority felt that, while GPS monitoring conceptually was welcomed for persistent and higher risk offenders, the level of intrusion intrinsic in its use was not necessary or welcome in all cases.

4.143 A partnership organisation felt that the use of GPS for all was impractical and that the two approaches each serve a separate purpose: traditional RF monitoring serves the purpose of alerting authorities where there has been a breach, with GPS only being relevant for those requiring continuous monitoring.

4.144 Five respondents - two local authorities, a public sector body, an independent and professional body and a third sector organisation - cited the expense of the delivery of such a service as a barrier to its roll-out. This included the additional costs of monitoring and long-term service delivery, rather than simply the initial nominated £400k. It is important to note that all those who cited costs as a barrier also commented on the need for proportionality.

4.145 Two other barriers to a wider roll-out of the service were cited: the technical limitations of the devices (battery life and size) and that technological developments generally should be superseded by social ones.

Reasons for favouring a wider roll-out

4.146 Seven respondents - two local authorities, two third sector organisations, a public sector body, an independent and professional body and a Health Board - expressed general support for widening the roll-out of GPS based electronic monitoring.

4.147 There was recognition that the principle of proportionality should still apply and for those in favour, this could be achieved through a 'tariffing' system. One respondent also highlighted the importance of ensuring compliance with ECHR legislation.

4.148 Ensuring compliance with court orders was seen as one of the main advantages of a wider roll out.

4.149 One respondent, a public sector organisation, argued that RF units are currently useful for victims of, for example, domestic abuse in the sense that they warn of non-compliance from restrained ex-partners etc. However, they commented on the fact that the presence of a RF unit within the home can serve as a reminder of encountered abuse and therefore a 'geo-fencing' approach was generally preferable.

Additional comments

4.150 As previously noted there were a number of additional comments received from respondents who did not indicate either support or opposition. A partnership organisation felt that there needs to be a clearer case put forward for the "GPS max" option as referred to in the consultation document. A third sector organisation and a public sector body felt that at present the business case for extensive roll-out needed to be strengthened and that a widespread roll-out of GPS could be better assessed on the basis of a more detailed identification of need and clear cost-benefit analysis.

4.151 One partnership organisation suggested that there is an assumption that any additional work would need to be absorbed by teams already stretched with MAPPA and Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LSCMI) requirements and that this would need to be clarified by Scottish Government. Similarly, a partnership organisation argued that if the GPS technology is shown to be reliable, effective and flexible at monitoring and supporting offenders, then it seems logical to consider the widespread roll out. They continued however that if there are cost pressures and capacity issues around risk assessment and suitability for GPS then it may be more prudent to focus on high risk offenders, such as sex offenders and domestic abuse perpetrators.

4.152 Another partnership organisation felt there needs to be a move from assessment of technical suitability to an approach which addresses the particular risks/needs which might benefit from electronic monitoring.

Additional views on the use of GPS on a "maximum roll out" basis

4.153 Question 17 asked: 'Please give any additional views that you have on the use of GPS on such a "maximum roll out" basis?' Twenty-two respondents commented in response to this question with an additional two respondents simply seeking to reiterate the comments they made at Question 16.

4.154 Once again the key theme related to the need to ensure proportionality in the use of GPS monitoring of offenders. Seven respondents made reference to this, stating that it should only apply to the perceived risk level of the individual offender. A private sector organisation stated that it should only apply to monitoring for SOPOs and extended sentences.

4.155 Four responses - three from CJAs and one from a public sector organisation - made reference to the belief that greater use of GPS monitoring could increase public confidence in the system and in perceived security. Two respondents (a local authority and a partnership) suggested that there were concerns about media attention and GPS monitoring in terms of usage and costs of the service.

4.156 Related to this, three respondents also commented on the need to provide greater information and give greater consideration to costs generally.

4.157 ,Another theme related to privacy and ethics - highlighted in four responses, three from independent and professional bodies and one from a local authority, were concerns about privacy and civil rights. An independent and professional body stated that: "Ethically, and in terms of human rights, in terms of effectiveness, value for money, opportunity cost to other more effective CJSW interventions, and in terms of the potential counter-productivity in labelling and reinforcing identity, maximum roll-out is unjustifiable and undesirable".

4.158 Another independent and professional body commented that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Acts were introduced to make sure that such rights were protected and that surveillance could not take place without the express authority of a senior police officer and for a specific and limited purpose.

4.159 Other comments raised by individual respondents were:

  • The need for a greater evidence base / research on the effectiveness of GPS monitoring;
  • Merit in looking at how electronic monitoring could be used to support 'testing in the community', for example within the home leave process;
  • Maximum roll out will be too expensive to justify;
  • Support for SCRAM testing;
  • Measures need to be introduced as part of package of rehabilitation.


Email: Susan Bulloch

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