Electronic monitoring in Scotland: Penological purposes, practices and professional ideologies in a season of change

H. Graham1*, G. McIvor2

1 Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Stirling, Scotland
2 Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Stirling, Scotland

*corresponding author: Dr Hannah Graham h.m.graham@stir.ac.uk

Scotland has one of the highest prison population rates in Western Europe, coinciding with growing interest among policymakers and practitioners in electronic monitoring (EM) tagging technologies as a potential mechanism for diversion and decarceration. It also has a fairly sophisticated range of community sanctions and measures – from which court-imposed and prison-imposed EM orders have, for 15 years, been largely kept separate, until now. This paper synthesises key features and findings from the Scottish component of cross-national comparative research involving five European jurisdictions. Funded by the EU, it forms part of the first comparative study of its kind of electronic monitoring in Europe. Drawing upon interviews, statistics and shadowing of field officers and observation of tagging practices, this paper offers evocative insights into how EM is used and the spectrum of views among criminal justice actors and decision-makers about its purposes. Even in the recent context of a remarkably consultative approach to EM policy development, some deeper influences and differences of professional ideologies are observed in practice. Specific changes are recommended to co-produce more strategic, effective and ethical uses of electronic monitoring in the future, balancing prospective creativity and flexibility of uses with an enduring need for proportionality and consistency.


Dr Hannah Graham is a Lecturer in Criminology in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) at the University of Stirling, Scotland. In 2015-2016, her research and knowledge exchange activities predominantly focus on community justice in the Scottish and European contexts. Hannah is the author of three books published internationally by Routledge: ‘Rehabilitation Work: Supporting Desistance and Recovery’ (Graham, 2016), ‘Innovative Justice’ (Graham & White, 2015), and ‘Working with Offenders: A Guide to Concepts and Practices’ (White & Graham, 2010). From 2011-2014, Hannah lectured in Criminology and Sociology at the University of Tasmania, Australia.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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