Electronic Monitoring in Scotland Working Group Report

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


Recommendation 1: Technology

Radio Frequency is an effective monitoring technology which should continue to be used within the Scottish electronic monitoring service.

GPS technology should be introduced to the electronic monitoring service in Scotland. The Group recommends that the use of GPS should not be predicated by crime type. GPS technology is versatile and decisions on its use should be made as part of an individually tailored approach, including where it can aid public and victim safety and where it can be used supportively to strengthen the monitored person's desistance.

Trans-dermal Alcohol Monitoring technology is effective at remotely detecting the presence of alcohol and its use within a Scottish setting should be explored further. Work should, therefore, be undertaken to determine how alcohol monitoring might be used effectively and at which points within the Scottish Justice System. This work could take the form of a demonstration project.

Recommendation 2: Future Service Delivery

To be most effective, the future model of service delivery for electronic monitoring in Scotland must be more integrated than it has been previously . Stand-alone orders will be suitable for some individuals and should, therefore, remain as a legitimate disposal.

However, in the majority of cases, whether a court order, HDC or as a condition of parole licence, electronic monitoring - having been based on a risk assessment - must be tailored to reflect the personal circumstances of each individual.

Where longer term desistance is the overarching goal, EM should be part of a wider package of support, delivered locally by statutory bodies with Third Sector involvement. Its use should not be restricted to particular crimes and need not be restricted to being an alternative to custody.

The future model will retain a nationally commissioned technology and monitoring service.

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.

Recommendation 4: Compliance

Ensuring that effective structures and criteria are in place to support compliance and manage non-compliance are crucial to contributing to a long term reduction in further offending, while maintaining electronic monitoring as a robust community sentence.

For Court Orders, to strengthen Shrieval confidence in electronic monitoring as a robust disposal, two reporting options for reporting non-compliance should be developed. This two tier approach (standard and intensive) would provide Sheriffs with an option to set more stringent reporting requirements for individuals as necessary while ensuring a more consistent approach to non-compliance reporting throughout Scotland.

For HDC, amendments should be made to streamline the current non-compliance criteria. The streamlined criteria should be accepted and utilised by all prison establishments in Scotland.

Supporting individuals to comply with electronic monitoring conditions is critical to reducing further offending in the longer term. Some instances of non-compliance should be seen as an opportunity to work more closely with the monitored person, recognising individual life circumstances and preventing every potential non-compliance instance being returned to decision makers. How compliance is best supported should be explored as part of the aforementioned demonstration project.

In partnership with individuals, agencies and organisations including the Judiciary, Police Scotland, SPS, the Parole Board for Scotland, Criminal Justice Social Work, Victims, the Third Sector and the service provider, response levels to non-compliance should be defined, agreed and set out in a Response Framework. This Response Framework will also be fundamental in determining how GPS technology should be incorporated into an individual's order or licence conditions.

Future Uses of Electronic Monitoring

There is significant scope to extend the use of electronic monitoring at various points in the Scottish Criminal Justice System, both within a community setting and within the custodial estate, where risk assessed as appropriate. The Expert Working Group recommends that the use of electronic monitoring is extended to include:

Recommendation 5: In the community:

  • Community re-integration following prison
  • As an alternative to remand and support to pre-trial conditions
  • As an alternative to short prison sentences
  • Voluntary schemes for persistent offenders and those on the cusp of serious and organised crime
  • Better support young people as part of alternative to secure care or as part of a step-down process from secure care
  • As an alternative option to fines
  • As a condition of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order
  • As a condition of a Risk of Sexual Harm Order
  • As a condition of a Structured Deferred Sentence.

Recommendation 6: Within the Custodial Estate:

EM offers the opportunity to utilise technology to enhance public confidence in those individuals who are progressing through the prison system and provide additional options for prison managers to test those prisoners who remain on the margins of acceptable risk. This may increase the number of prisoners who progress to less secure conditions and provide them with the confidence to live successfully with the flexibility of an individual monitored plan.

EM may be utilised on some occasions for work placement, home leave, future female community custody units and community access from closed establishments. This may also include options for Throughcare Support Officers to help prisoners transition back to the community prior to release to attend community based appointments and as a support to a desistance model.

Recommendation 7: Legislative Change

The Working Group recognises that amendments to primary legislation will be necessary to enable all of the recommended future uses, set out above, to be introduced. In addition, the following specific legislative changes are recommended:

  • Removing Section 16 and 17 Statutory Exclusions for Home Detention Curfew
  • Providing for electronic monitoring as a requirement of a Community Payback Order
  • Introducing legislative changes to allow for the introduction of GPS technology, including the necessary amendments to Data Protection legislation
  • Enabling legislation to provide for a demonstration project on Remote Alcohol Monitoring
  • Redefining an RLO as a standard standalone community sentence - that is not only considered as an alternative to custody.

Recommendation 8: Encouraging Ownership of Electronic Monitoring

To encourage greater ownership of Electronic Monitoring and its usage across Scotland, the Working Group would invite statutory and non-statutory organisations to draft their own statement of intent going forward on EM in a similar manner to that taken forward by Social Work Scotland, as a professional body as shown in Appendix A.

The timescales for introducing each new use is dependent on the timing of changes required to primary legislation.


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