Electronic Monitoring in Scotland Working Group Report

Report and recommendations on electronic monitoring produced by the expert working group.

A Goal-Oriented and Person-Centred Approach

For EM to be used most effectively, its use should be considered alongside the overarching goals for each monitored person and individually tailored to reflect the needs, risk and circumstances of that individual. The versatility of the existing technology and the introduction of new technology provide opportunities for EM to be tailored to each individual's circumstances for example:

  • to set exclusion zones for the protection of victims
  • as a means of control to assure that an individual is present at an address
  • to break a pattern of offending behaviour
  • to set curfew times around employment and training schedules.

If the ultimate goal is to use EM to aid longer term desistance, we must recognise that it is most effective when used as part of a person-centred approach and set within a much wider package of support. For example, the introduction of GPS technology presents the opportunity for new forms of electronically monitored control and the positive, pro-social activities that can be used around them.

Some international evidence tentatively suggests that electronic monitoring has a crime reduction effect for the duration of the monitoring period but not necessarily afterwards. This is plausible, because an awareness of being monitored is likely to act as an immediate deterrent, without necessarily enabling or fostering changes in attitudes and behaviour. We know from evidence that EM is a versatile tool which can and should be tailored to reflect an individual's personal circumstances and that if longer term desistance is required, EM should be used as part of a more person-centred approach, within a wider package of support.

The 2015 SCCJR research of the uses of EM recommended that even in terms of risk:

"one size does not fit all" and that " EM should [also] be tailored in response to the diversity and vulnerability of the monitored person."

This has to be read in conjunction with consideration of public safety and risk to victims.

Since its introduction in Scotland, the use of electronic monitoring has largely been used as a punishment to curfew individuals to an address for 12 hours a day, usually from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. There has also been some limited use of electronic monitoring to exclude individuals from an address, for 24 hours each day.

Scotland is currently an outlier in Europe, in that the vast majority of electronic monitoring court orders and HDC licences in Scotland are stand-alone. In most cases these are set with standard curfew conditions of a restriction to an address from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. each day.

While a standalone approach will be suitable for some individuals, and therefore should be retained as a legitimate option, it should not be the default option as in the past.

Over recent months, there has been an increased recognition among some Sheriffs and Social Workers that the more flexible use of EM can be used to incentivise good behaviour. For example, progressively reducing the number of hours a person is curfewed to an address, within the period of a court order, provides an element of reward and incentive for the individual. This approach is also true for those leaving prison on HDC.

There is evidence to suggest that providing individuals with person-centred support through the transition phase from custody to community has a positive impact, extending the length of time between offending and ultimately contributing to a reduction in reoffending. Supporting individuals to find suitable housing, to register with a GP, and to access welfare support are fundamental to successful reintegration. For short term prisoners (4 years and under), voluntary throughcare can be requested and is available dependent on local resources; SPS has appointed Throughcare Support Officers who offer support to individuals from 6 weeks before release to 6 weeks post release and mentoring services are available to support young males and women through current Public Social Partnerships ( PSPs). Long term prisoners (over 4 years), people convicted of a sexual offence and short-term extended sentence prisoners receive statutory throughcare delivered by CJSW and the Third Sector.

Due to these existing interventions by CJSW, Throughcare Support Officers and the Third Sector, HDC therefore presents a real opportunity to support staged access back to the community.

The Group, therefore, concluded that a goals-oriented approach where EM is tailored to each individual's personal circumstance should be encouraged. Where longer term desistance is the goal, set within a wider package of support always with consideration to public protection and the protection of victims.

Defining what 'support' looks like within a person-centred approach and who is best placed to provide that support requires further scoping. The Working Group recognises that the levels and types of support required will differ from individuals and may encompass:

  • motivating and supporting an individual to desist from further offending
  • preparing and implementing a case management plan
  • keeping said plan to schedule
  • organising levels and types of contact and resources to support each individual
  • supporting the individual to achieve the intended outcome of each intervention
  • Referral to treatment or intervention programme.

Recommendation 3: A Goal-Oriented and Person-Centred Approach

For EM to be used most effectively, its use should be considered in line with the overarching goals for each monitored person and tailored to reflect the needs, risk and circumstances of that individual.

Where longer term desistance is the ultimate goal, EM should be set within a wider package of support provided by statutory bodies with Third Sector involvement.

To determine what 'support' may comprise of, how it is best delivered and, as far as possible, the associated resource implications, the Working Group recommends that a demonstration project is undertaken.


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