Electronic Monitoring

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In the second recent HMIP report, the Inspectorate have concluded that parts of the Probation Service’s electronic monitoring (EM) programme require urgent improvements to keep people safe.

This will come as no surprise to our members who, over many years, have campaigned through Napo to highlight the shortcomings in EM. This is despite huge investments in the technology (as recognised by the Inspectorate) and the hollow claims by numerous politicians that EM would substantially reduce reoffending.

HMIP found ‘the Ministry of Justice’s multi-million pound programme is not delivering to its full potential, with electronic monitoring often treated as an extra rather than as an integral part of probation supervision.’

The report also highlights the fact that Probation Service policies and guidance fails to explain how EM should be used to complement other activity to manage service users effectively. Additionally, there is criticism about the process that is used to decide whether an individual should be released early from prison and put on a home detention curfew (HDC). Probation practitioners have told HMIP that they felt decisions were almost always weighted towards release.

Deficiencies have also been highlighted in the assessment process – and the lack of information on the proposed address for the curfew. Further shortcomings identified by HMIP include there being no policy to mandate domestic abuse and safeguarding checks at court, or before the individual is released from custody, with many checks not being routinely conducted.

Among the 21 recommendations from HMIP as suggested by many staff who were interviewed, is the need to urgently create an accessible portal for practitioners to be able to access ‘real time’ information in respect of an individual subject to EM.

The full report and recommendations can be accessed here: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation/wp-content/uploads/...

A new response is needed from Government

This latest report on EM is one of a number that have appeared over the last two decades, and Napo will of course be seeking a discussion with the Chief Probation Officer over the findings. It remains to be seen whether this Government will take urgent action on the various recommendations, or simply choose to direct even more public money to private providers who seem unable to produce different results than the ones identified previously.