New electronic monitoring technologies aim to better protect victims
Holyrood has passed the Management of Offenders Bill, which aims strengthen powers of recall from home detention curfew (HDC) by introducing a new offence of remaining unlawfully at large and granting police greater powers to help apprehend anyone who absconds.
The legislation allows the use of advanced electronic tags which enable GPS exclusion zones to improve tracking of those monitored and reassure victims. Substance monitoring will also be available to support rehabilitation.
The bill also enables courts to add electronic monitoring to a community payback order (CPO) and reduces how long certain convictions must be disclosed to employers to help people move into work, making them less likely to reoffend.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Our firm focus on rehabilitation in custody and in the community including mentoring and community payback orders is working with reconviction rates at the lowest level in twenty years.
“The development of electronic monitoring improves the sentencing options available while strengthening Home Detention Curfews provides the necessary protection to reintegrate prisoners into the community, reducing the risk of them reoffending.
“Progressive changes to disclosure allow people to move on with their lives into employment, proven to reduce the likelihood of further offending, helping keep crime down and communities safe.”
Dr Hannah Graham, a criminologist at Stirling University and leading electronic monitoring researcher whose work informed the Management of Offenders Bill, said: “The bill’s passage means positive and pragmatic reforms of electronic monitoring tagging, disclosure and parole can now progress.
“International evidence shows that integrating uses of electronic tagging with community-based supervision and support is often more effective and rehabilitative than simply using technology on its own. This bill enables electronic monitoring to be added as an option, alongside other options like supervision and treatment, in CPOs, giving criminal justice social workers a key role.”
Dughall Laing of Recruit with Conviction, an organisation which works with employers to help them benefit from the skills of people with convictions, said:
“Recruit with Conviction recognises the Management of Offenders bill as a huge step forward in supporting fair access to employment. The changes proposed balance the needs of employers and employees while providing real opportunities for people to move on from their past by securing and sustaining work.”