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24 July 2016, 12:09
The number of offenders electronically tagged after being convicted of domestic abuse has soared over the last five years, according to new figures.
Statistics revealed in a Scottish Parliament written answer show there were 44 people sentenced to a restriction of liberty order for domestic abuse in 2010-11, rising to 110 in 2014-15.
The Scottish Government said the rise could reflect an increase in the number of cases reaching the courts due to a stronger emphasis on tackling domestic abuse by police and prosecutors.
Separate figures published last year show there were 59,882 domestic abuse incidents reported in 2014-15, compared with 58,439 in 2013-14, an increase of 2.5%.
The Scottish Conservatives warned tagging should not be used as a replacement for jail in relation to domestic abuse.
The party's justice spokesman Douglas Ross, who requested the data, said: ''Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime and the punishment handed down by the courts must protect both victims and the public.
''Electronic tagging is certainly a useful tool in the box in this regard, but we need to avoid a situation where it is being used as a means to reduce the prison population when even a short custodial sentence might be more appropriate.
''The Scottish Government also needs an integrated approach to domestic abuse offenders which focuses on public protection on the one hand, and rehabilitation on the other.''
A Scottish Government spokesman said an extra £20 million was being invested over three years in addition to £11.8 million annual funding to tackle violence against women, including domestic abuse.
He said: ''This has already boosted resources to courts and crown to reduce court waiting times for domestic abuse cases while we have also extended measures to support vulnerable witnesses, such as giving evidence via video link, with automatic access to such support for alleged victims of domestic abuse.
''Evidence indicates that community sentences, including electronic monitoring, are more effective at reducing reoffending than short prison sentences, part of the reason why Scotland currently has the lowest reconviction rate in 16 years.
''Clearly, we are listening to the views of family members affected by people who are tagged as we consider how to take forward electronic monitoring in Scotland.''