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United Kingdom : THINK tank urges for greater use of electronic tagging to ease prison population.

A crime and justice think tank has urges for enhanced use of electronic tagging to ease the strain on remand wings in Scottish prisons. Nearly half of all new arrivals at the nationsjails are people placed on remand by the courts.

The Scottish Consortium on Crime and Criminal Justice (SCCCJ) says electronic tags should be used more widely.

The Scottish Executive in 2007 commissioned an evaluation intro trials in Glasgow, Stirling and Kilmarnock which ascertained failure of tagging to put a significant dent in the prison population.

However, in a statement to the ministers, the SCCCJ, said, Arguably, with advances in technology it is time to look again at how it (EM) can be used to reduce the use of remand.

The SCCCJ added, Many of those remanded will either be found not guilty or will receive a non-custodial sentence. This raises the question of why they were remanded in custody in the first place.

Overcrowding is an issue in the accommodation of remand prisoners, and overcrowding poses a number of problems. Remanding an individual in custody is one of the most expensive ways of monitoring them prior to trial.

In terms of efforts to reduce the use of remand, electronically monitored bail should be revisited. It seems strange we resort to custodial remand when EM is available as a means of control that is less stigmatising, allows the maintenance of relationships, employment, training, and is far less expensive.

The best way to save money in the criminal justice system is by closing prisons. Barlinnie Prison is due to be rebuilt at a cost in excess of 150 million. If we significantly reduce the remand population and increase diversion programmes we could look at not building such an expensive replacement.

A Scottish government spokesman said: We are also looking at practical options to reduce the use of remand and the use of custodial sentences of less than 12 months.

We are working with three pathfinder sites to identify and test practical improvements to help reduce the use of remand.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Jan 23, 2016
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