The Council of Europe Recommendation
In 2014, the Council of Europe made a recommendation ( Recommendation CM/Rec (2014) 4) about Electronic Monitoring with the aim 'to define a set of basic principles related to ethical issues and professional standards enabling national authorities to provide just, proportionate and effective use of different forms of electronic monitoring in the framework of the criminal justice process in full respect of the rights of the persons concerned'.
The Recommendation contained 40 principles including;
- Reiterating that prison overcrowding and prison population growth constitute continuing challenges to prison administrations and the criminal justice system as a whole, both in terms of human rights and of the efficient management of penal institutions
- Recognising that electronic monitoring, as a restriction of liberty, used in the framework of the criminal justice process, can potentially help reduce resorting to full deprivation of liberty, while enabling, as a standalone or integrated measure, effective supervision of suspects and offenders in the community, and thus helping prevent crime
- Recognising at the same time that electronic monitoring technologies can be used in better and worse ways, and insisting that they are used in a well regulated, evidence-based and proportionate manner in order to reduce unwarranted adverse effects on the life of a monitored person and of concerned third parties, including their families
- Insisting that the use of EM is always subject to judicial authority, or is at least subject to judicial review
- The type and modalities of execution of EM shall be proportionate in terms of duration and intrusiveness to the seriousness of the offence alleged or committed, shall take into account the individual circumstances of the suspect or offender and shall be regularly reviewed, and
- Where there is a victim protection scheme using EM to supervise the movements of a suspect or an offender, it is essential to obtain the victim's prior consent and every effort shall be made to ensure that the victim understands the capacities and limitations of the technology.
The Working Group considered the Council of Europe's principles and recommendations in the context of the current service and were satisfied that the electronic monitoring process in Scotland largely comply with these, without being as integrated as it could be. With regards to the future development of the electronic monitoring service, the Working Group was mindful of the European principles throughout their deliberations, in particular around the uses of newer, upcoming technologies to ensure standards were met. The Working Group considers that its recommendations are fully aligned with the European principles and recommendations.
These principles and recommendations will be further considered in the following months, with particular reference to data sharing and retention, in order to ensure that Scottish practice accords with the following European principle: "Data collected in the course of the use of electronic monitoring shall be subject to specific regulations based on the relevant international standards regarding storage, use and sharing of data."