'GPS tagging' of offenders examined

image copyrightAFP
image captionGPS tagging devices are already being used in the North America and Scandinavia

The Scottish government is examining whether new GPS technology could be used to help monitor sex offenders and domestic abusers.

The technology, which would be worn as an electronic tag, could tell controllers whether an offender is close to a restricted area.

These could include a children's playground or a victim's home.

Around 800 people are currently the subject of electronic monitoring in Scotland.

They wear tags either because they have been released early from prison or are on community sentences.

Advances in technology

These tags work with a specific radio frequency, but advances in GPS technology developed in North America and Scandinavia appear to be more flexible and effective.

Ministers believe individually-tailored electronic monitoring can help reduce reoffending, by allowing offenders to maintain family connections and employment.

It comes as more than 100 experts meet in Perth to examine how Scotland could use advances in technology, including GPS, to improve the monitoring of offenders.

The conference has been organised as part of work being undertaken by a specially appointed Electronic Monitoring in Scotland Working Group, which is due to report to Scottish Ministers next year.

The event coincides with a new report from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, which has found evidence that adopting GPS technology in addition to the current radio frequency method could be beneficial.

'Vehicle theft'

The research has explored the potential uses of GPS monitoring for a number of offence types, including domestic abuse, alcohol, sexual crimes, drug-related crimes and vehicle theft.

Speaking at the conference, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "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."

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