Expanded tagging sentences to reduce re-offending

michael matheson

The Scottish Government is to continue to expand the use of electronic tags to help reduce re-offending levels and keep communities safe, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced yesterday.

New projects will introduce GPS tracking in addition to the current radio frequency technology used for home detention to monitor people as part of their sentence, building on the advice of a panel of experts and international research published yesterday.

Stirling University criminologist and electronic monitoring researcher Dr Hannah Graham, who carried out the report studies, said: “Tagging and curfews alone don’t address the underlying reasons why people commit crime, so the working group’s recommendations are welcome for how they emphasise integration with rehabilitative supports to help leave crime behind.

“This announcement and the working group’s recommendations show Scotland taking a more European approach to electronic monitoring, learning from the Dutch goal-oriented approach and leading Scandinavian examples. There is good evidence underpinning these countries’ approaches, and I would argue that is a better and bolder direction for Scotland to pursue.”

The expansion of electronic tagging would be used in addition to community payback orders and other measures to tackle a person’s offending behaviour, while providing the added security of restricting their movements.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The overwhelming message from the experts is that Scotland could significantly reduce re-offending by better use of electronic tagging and emerging monitoring technology. I welcome all of the recommendations the panel has made and am determined that we seize this opportunity to reduce crime even further and make our communities safer.

“Effective community sentences have driven Scotland’s re-offending rate down to a 17-year low using smarter, more effective interventions. The potential of combining community sentencing alternatives with tagging will allow us to hold people to greater account during their sentence and focus on rehabilitating them.”

The government will also look at how electronic monitoring could be used ahead of sentencing in cases where the crime would be unlikely to result in custodial punishment.

Mr Matheson said: “This government is committed to an ambitious and progressive approach to reducing offending and we will ensure that we are using electronic tagging more effectively, and in the best way possible to keep people safe.”

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