Possible expansion of electronic tagging in Scotland

2 March 2017, 19:04 | Updated: 2 March 2017, 19:05

michael matheson

A consultation on the expansion of electronic tags to help reduce reoffending has been launched by the Scottish Government.

New legislation could see GPS tracking, alcohol monitoring technology and tagging used as an alternative to custody in Scotland for the first time.

An expansion could see tagging used as a condition of a community payback order or bail to give added security of restricting a person's movement.

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.''

Angela Smith, service director for G4S monitoring technologies in Scotland, said: "Electronic monitoring technology has come a long way in recent years and the advent of GPS offers judges and the courts a range of firm sentencing options to impose curfews and restrict offenders' movements where it is appropriate to do so.

"As well as strengthening public protection, electronic monitoring can help to tackle reoffending by allowing appropriate offenders to serve their sentence in the community while maintaining employment and family ties, which evidence suggests is vital in turning people away from crime and, ultimately, reducing the number of future victims and harm to our communities.''

Dr Hannah Graham, a criminologist at Stirling University, said there is a "pressing need to reduce unnecessary costly uses of prison in Scotland''.

She added: "This consultation is an important opportunity for people to voice their views because the proposals it contains for new uses of electronic monitoring will require changes to the law to be passed.''

The online consultation can be accessed on the Scottish Government website and is open until May 19.