Scotland politics

GPS tracking of offenders to be tested

Electronic tag
Image caption Electronic monitoring of offenders has been used in Scotland since 2002

Testing is to be carried out to consider if GPS tracking technology should be used to monitor sex offenders and domestic abusers, the justice secretary has announced.

Kenny MacAskill said a new expert group would test the technology after concerns were raised over its use.

The working group will also test electronic devices which can detect if someone has been drinking.

The group will hold its first meeting early in November.

Police Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service, security firm G4S, the Violence Reduction Unit, Social Work Scotland, the Judicial Institute for Scotland and academics will make up the group.

The examination of GPS and alcohol monitoring devices follows a consultation on electronic monitoring of offenders.

The group will test the effectiveness of GPS monitoring compared to radio frequency monitoring, and will work with the judiciary and victims' groups with the aim of raising awareness.

Some of those responding to the consultation raised concerns about whether the use of GPS tracking was proportionate and others called for new legislation to ensure human rights are protected.

'Huge value'

Mr MacAskill said: "Evidence has already shown the huge value electronic monitoring can have on rehabilitating suitable offenders and reducing reoffending, but this consultation has provided a vital insight into how it can be developed for the future."

He added: "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.

"However, some concerns have been raised into the effectiveness of this technology, so I want the new expert group to carry out thorough testing and make recommendations to the Scottish government to allow us to consider whether it is suitable for use on any offenders in Scotland."

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "We have been calling for the introduction of GPS tracking to track sex offenders since 2007, but the SNP has dragged their heels on its introduction.

"As a result, some offenders, who are supposed to be under the watch of the authorities, have fled the country and gone missing.

"While it's pleasing the justice secretary has finally recognised the value of using this technology to track not just sex offenders but also in cases of domestic abuse, it's vital this testing is carried out as quickly as possible.

"Any further delays in implementing GPS tracking could increase the risk to the public from these people reoffending."

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