Scottish Government launches consultation on increased use of electronic tagging

Written by Jenni Davidson on 2 March 2017 in News

Tagging could be used along with a community payback order and for monitoring alcohol consumption

Handcuffs - Image credit: PA Images

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on increasing the use of electronic tagging, with a view to introducing new legislation on its use.

The expansion of tagging to is proposed to include new uses such as monitoring alcohol consumption and voluntary schemes for persistent offenders.

Other potential changes include using GPS tracking technology in addition to current radio tagging, giving courts the option of tagging as an alternative to a fine, using tagging as a bail condition instead of custody on remand and introducing electronic tags as a condition of release from custody while a police investigation is ongoing.


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It could also see tagging used as a condition of a community payback order, giving the additional security of restricting the person’s movement while they are carrying out unpaid work in the community.

The Scottish Government announced its plans to increase the use of electronic tagging in October last year.

This followed the recommendations of a working group of criminal justice experts, which included representatives from the Scottish Prison Service, Social Work Scotland, the Violence Reduction Unit, Scottish Women’s Aid and Police Scotland.

Launching the consultation, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “There will always be crimes where a prison sentence is the only reasonable response – but international research backs our experience that prison is not always the most effective way to bring down repeat offending.

“That is why we are considering a major expansion on the way we use electronic monitoring and we want to hear people’s views on what those changes should look like.

“This is about effective changes that stop people reoffending, make best use of emerging technology and tackle our high rate of imprisonment – all with the aim of doing more to keep people safe.”

Dr Hannah Graham, a criminologist and electronic monitoring researcher at Stirling University who has carried out the studies used by the Scottish Government, also spoke in support of the proposals.

She said: “International evidence shows electronic monitoring can be used effectively and ethically, without routinely resorting to custody.

“This doesn’t mean indiscriminate tagging and surveillance en masse, nor does it mean ignoring victims and families.

“It means tailoring tagging to be fit-for-purpose, with due regard for all affected.

“This consultation proposes some practical ways of better integrating electronic tagging with supports for rehabilitation to help people leave crime behind.”

The consultation on electronic tagging runs until 19 May.

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