By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 17 January 2022 • 9:51
Prison reforms in Scotland will see satellite technology used to tag offenders instead of being sent to prison. The deal signed with a tech firm seeks to reduce the pressure on Scotland’s overcrowded prisons.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said yesterday that a high-end GPS tracker will allow law enforcement officials to keep better tabs on offenders that have been spared jail. The deal according to Brown is just one of a raft of measures aimed at cutting the number of people sent to jail.
Currently there is in the region of 7750 serving prison sentences, one of the highest incarceration rates in Europe. Currently there is more than 1,000 people with tags that are being managed by firm G4S.
Brown said: “The reforms we’re consulting on are part of a much wider community justice agenda. This includes changes to how electronic monitoring can be used as part of a community order, providing additional safeguards.
“As part of this, we have secured a national contract to allow us to introduce GPS technology which could allow monitoring across wider geographical areas, including exclusion zones.”
He continued: “There are complex issues to work through with this but I am committed to moving as quickly as we can so this technology can be used here. We are matching our ambition with investment. We already provide about £119 million every year to drive real improvements.”
Another initiative the Scottish Government wants to use more frequently are Community Payback Orders (CPOs), research revealing that those imposed with CPOs were less likely to reoffend than offenders who were locked up.
Dr Cara Jardine, a criminologist, has backed government plans to reduce Scotland’s prison population claiming packed jails damage society and tear apart families. She said: “By over relying on imprisonment to solve what are often social problems, such as poverty, trauma or addiction, we place an extremely heavy burden on families and risk making social inequalities worse.”
She continued saying: “Families affected by imprisonment not only have to cope with disruption to their finances, housing, mental health, child care arrangements and relationships but they also often spend considerable amounts of time, money and effort supporting the person in prison.
“The families of people in prison are very often ignored or overlooked in discussions of criminal justice policy.
“Unfortunately this means we only have a partial picture of the true consequences of our very high prison numbers.
“Even a short prison sentence can be very damaging to families, as many are already experiencing poverty.
“We should be seriously concerned that our use of imprisonment can deepen social marginality.”
Many will be surprised that Satellite technology hasn’t been used to tag offenders before, the equipment having been available for some years.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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