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Electronic Monitoring in Scotland

Use of electronic monitoring in Scotland

Electronic monitoring was first piloted in Scotland in 1998, before being rolled-out nationally in 2002 as a Restriction of Liberty Order which is imposed only by Courts. Since 2002, as confidence in the use of the technology increased, an understanding has developed as to how electronic monitoring could be used more widely.  It is now used to monitor a number of different community disposals as well as being included as a licence condition on release from prison.  Electronic monitoring is versatile and has grown organically to become a well-established feature of the criminal justice system in Scotland. 

Current legislation now allows for electronic monitoring in Scotland to be used for the following purposes:

  • As part of a Restriction of Liberty Order (RLO);

  • As a licence condition for the purposes of Home Detention Curfew (HDC);

  • As a licence condition imposed/recommended by the Parole Board for Scotland following early release from prison;

  • As part of a Restricted Movement Requirement (RMR) imposed for breach of a Community Payback Order (CPO);

  • As a condition of a Drug Treatment and Testing Order (DTTO); and

  • As a Movement Restriction Condition (MRC) for young people imposed by a Children’s Hearing.

Scotland currently only uses radio frequency (RF) technology to monitor around 1,000 people each day.  Radio frequency has proven to be an effective technology to monitor when an individual enters or leaves a specific address, either as part of a curfew or where an exclusion zone has been set up to protect a victim, be that an individual or a business.  

How does it work?

An electronic tag is usually worn around the ankle and communicates with a home monitoring unit via a radio frequency signal.  The information that the tag sends to the home monitoring unit provides information about a person’s compliance with curfew times imposed at any address. 

Informing a New Strategy for Electronic Monitoring in Scotland

Following a Scottish Government consultation in 2013 the Electronic Monitoring Expert Working Group was established to consider how electronic monitoring could be better used within the criminal justice system in Scotland.  The Working Group’s aim was to align electronic monitoring with existing efforts to aid desistance, support integration, protect victims, support public protection and help reduce further offending.

In the summer of 2016, the Working Group delivered a report to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice setting out recommendations on how the use of electronic monitoring as a tool should be taken forward in Scotland.  The report contained eight recommendations, these focus on;


1.            Technology;

2.            Future service delivery;

3.            A goal-oriented and person-centred approach;

4.            Compliance;

5.            Future uses of electronic monitoring: in the community;

6.            Future uses of electronic monitoring: within the Custodial Estate;

7.            Legislative change; and

8.            Encouraging ownership of electronic monitoring.


Both the report and its recommendations were informed by international evidence, partner and stakeholder engagement at both national and local level along with the knowledge and expertise of the group members.

On 2 March 2017 a consultation was launched on proposals for legislation to expand the use of electronic monitoring in Scotland.  The legislative changes will help the delivery of the electronic monitoring working group recommendations. The consultation paper sets out the legislative changes which the Scottish Government propose to enable new uses for electronic monitoring and also introduce new technologies. Changes being explored include:

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking technology in addition to current radio frequency tagging;

  • Giving courts the option of tagging as a requirement of a community payback order;

The consultation closed on 19 May 2017.