GPS experts gather in Perth for electronic monitoring conference

Michael Matheson

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has said new GPS technologies should be explored for their potential use in monitoring sex offenders and domestic abusers.

Speaking as over 100 experts in the use of electronic monitoring gather in Perth today, Mr Matheson said there are “potential opportunities” for advanced GPS technologies to play a greater role in Scottish justice.

Today’s conference has been organised by the Electronic Monitoring in Scotland Working Group, which is exploring opportunities around the future use of electronic monitoring and is due to report to Scottish Government ministers next year.

It coincides with the release of a new report from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, which found that Scotland could benefit from adopting GPS technology in electronic monitoring, in addition to the current radio frequency method.

Around 800 people in Scotland are currently the subject of electronic monitoring, due to community sentences or early release from prison.

Conference delegates had an opportunity to see the latest electronic monitoring technology on display, including Remote Alcohol Monitoring systems, as well as hearing from international experts and people with a lived experience of electronic monitoring.

Mr Matheson told the conference: “For more than ten years we have successfully used radio frequency technology in electronic monitoring and our current approach is working. However, I am keen to explore how we could make use of the latest in emerging technologies, such as GPS.

“On the face of it, GPS technology appears to offer potential opportunities for the management of sex offenders or to be used in cases of domestic abuse.

“Some concerns have been raised in the past about the effectiveness of the technology so the expert group is currently undertaking a wide ranging review and testing of the technology.

“This latest research and today’s conference is another step forward in the evidence gathering of the group and I look forward to receiving their recommendations early next year.

“We know that the use of electronic monitoring can be flexible and tailored to support the individual, and can be a crucial tool in reducing reoffending by allowing those involved to maintain connections with their family, their community and their employment.”