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Introducing new location monitoring tags to courts

28 June 2019

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is introducing location monitoring tags in all courts across England and Wales as an option for community and suspended sentence orders.

The roll-out of satellite-enabled tags is the most significant change in electronic monitoring (EM) since 1999.

Tags can be a valuable extra tool for the management of offenders and defendants in the community.

What is location monitoring?

The tags use satellite technology to record the location of a wearer 24 hours a day.

Location monitoring will be available alongside the electronic monitoring of curfew requirements, which remains an important option for the management and supervision of offenders and defendants.

Location tags provide additional options, allowing the monitoring of:

  • compliance with exclusion zones
  • attendance at a particular activity or appointment
  • a subject’s whereabouts (known as trail monitoring) – this can provide offender managers with data about an individual’s whereabouts to support rehabilitative conversations
  • multiple conditions or requirements if necessary, such as a combination of exclusion zones, curfew, monitored attendance and trail monitoring

How can defence solicitors use location monitoring?

When making submissions to a court on sentence, defence solicitors should be aware of the possibility that EM may be considered by the court as a condition of a community or suspended sentence order.

If instructed, defence solicitors may wish to proactively suggest this to the court.

The MoJ suggest that defence solicitors may wish to consider the following:

“Location monitoring options can be very precisely aligned to the individual, specifically addressing their patterns of behaviour in a much more sophisticated way than was previously possible.

“The tag can be aligned to monitor exclusion zones of all sizes and types, including addresses, a selection of streets, or larger areas such as postcodes or towns.

“The technology can provide an effective deterrent against breaching exclusion requirements. One subject on a location tag said:

‘I’ve walked in an exclusion zone before, not realising …That was before I had the tag on, so I wasn’t really bothered about getting seen. Now, with the tag, I knew full well that if I go in that exclusion zone, I’m [going to] get seen no matter what.’

“As well as fulfilling a strong punitive and restrictive element, the technology can also support rehabilitation.

“In particular, subjects have valued that the tags gave them an incentive to stay out of trouble, providing them with a credible excuse to dissociate from peers who were encouraging criminal behaviour.

“This supportive function can also be provided through a standalone EM condition, trail monitoring.

“If specified on an order (for community and suspended sentence orders only – not available for court bail), trail monitoring allows an offender manager to review the offender’s movements.

“This data helps offender managers to manage their offender’s wider behaviour, beyond exclusion or attendance requirements, facilitating constructive rehabilitative conversations.”

When and where is it available?

Half of courts in the country can already impose location monitoring to monitor conditions/requirements of court bail and community and suspended sentence orders.

The MoJ are now rolling out the tags across the whole of England and Wales as an option for community and suspended sentence orders only (not yet for court bail), in three stages:

  • 1 July – South East and Eastern
  • 29 July – North East and Wales
  • 19 August – Midlands (national coverage achieved)

Each court will be informed by the MoJ when this becomes available as an option.

If you would like more information, contact emchange@justice.gov.uk.

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