Effects of electronic monitoring in relation to young people

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Key area of focus: Impact of the policy on young people and on the community


Talk about the problem q and what the report is aiming to achieve. How you are going to approach the q.

Look at history. Where it came (i.e. Curfew orders)

Which party introduced it:

Why and how it came about. Rational behind it- at Prevention as their stance. 'get tough' measure.

To increase community safety. Help tackle those young people who have already gotten in trouble with the police etc

Make sure that your baseline information is accurate and authoritative

This report is aiming to look at the potential impact of EM on the community and the offender. It aims to critically analyse the use of EM, looking at the effects on young offenders, ordinary young people and the implications it has for the community.

EM justification- as a form of public protection in relation to the community and the need for rehabilitative and humane punishment for the offender. To conclude, this study would look at the wider debate around the sentencing ideology and its implications on those it closely affects.

Electronic Monitoring is a form of surveillance used as a punishment. It works by monitoring the offender via a radio transmitter that is 'tagged' on them. This transmitter locates them through GPS using a phone network that is connected to the telephone line at home (base station). It could be set to alert authorities if the tag isn't functioning within a range of the base station during curfew hours or when the offender enters certain restricted areas. The signal may also be broken if taken off or attempted to be taken off. There are different levels of violations, and the most serious can result in a breach of the curfew with the possibility of an amendment or a recall to their curfew period.

EM is commonly used for community based sentences (other community penalties), parole of people released from prison and home detention curfews. This can be implemented on the individual as a sentence on its own right, as a condition of early release from prison as a condition of their parole (on those who have not been convicted)

EM was initially used to track the location of mental patients in Massachusetts in 1964-1970. The earliest it was recording to have been used by the courts, was in New Mexico by judge jack love as a method of monitoring rather than controlling to help reduce prison population. It was first used by the Conservative Party when they introduced legal power to impose EM in the Criminal Justice Act 1991 but at the time this was fiercely opposed by the probation service and others both for adults and young people. It might be interesting to comment on why it has become acceptable as a measure more recently and what that says about social attitudes.

*and has been adapted from the curfew order___Act. The Labour Party introduced it as a 'get tough' measure with at Prevention as their stance. In regards to young people and the community, rationale behind it was increase community safety and help tackle those young people who have already gotten in trouble with the police etc

(doesn't apply to under 18's)

The Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme was announced to the House of Commons by

the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, in November 1997, and formed part of what became the

Crime and Disorder Act, 1998. The scheme was intended primarily to ease the transition of

prisoners from custody to the community by allowing suitable inmates to be released up to

two months before their normal release date, provided that they comply with an

electronically monitored curfew for that period.

Home Detention Curfew came into force on 28 January 1999 and was implemented

nationally from that date, becoming one of the largest electronic monitoring schemes in the

world. In all, some 16,000 prisoners were placed on HDC during its first year of operation

and this evaluation focuses largely on that period.


How much people are being monitored (stats).

Evaluate the type of people this mainly affects (gender, race) and the impact of this on the person

The types of areas mainly affected.

How many young people it affects

Since the scheme was introduced in the UK. _____ many people have been subject to the order. Home office statistics show that ____ young people have been involved.

Impact on Young Offenders


In relation to any young offender who has been involved in the electronic tagging scheme, we could argue that EM has positive effects on their life whilst monitoring their activity. This is because it allows some freedom as opposed to a full time custodial sanction. EM simply enhances on traditional forms of detention as it ensures individual remains in same place. This sort of retribution prohibits the offender from being out when it is known that they are particularly likely to be vulnerable participate in crime.

It could also be said that it is an improvement of rehabilitation for the offender as they are more likely to stay with his/her family, work etc. This also means they avoid the violence, intimidation, and degrading punishment of prison sentences so as a result are more likely to rehabilitate and behave to stay away from prison.


However there has been controversy to such scheme as …argue that it is a breach of their civil liberty and raises ethical concerns on privacy.

The actual punishment and its effects could be seen as weak and many argue that it doesn't always have a rehabilitative impact on the person; it simply controls their involvement in crimes. It could be argued that these threats, rules and warnings do not always work and sometimes more is needed to help them understand why EM is used on them. In order for it to work, the offender needs to see it as a tool/ opportunity for them to rehabilitate, however this is not always the case and as a result to individual persists on offending.

Impact on Community


EM has many positive impacts on the community. One of the main reasons for implementing it was that it is cheaper than a full time custodial sentence. It saves the govt thousands of pounds because it reduces prison populations and as a result leading to government cost efficiency with fewer prison /administration costs. This can then be reflected in tax cuts for the general public.

Another significant aspect of EM is that it can restrict the certain areas in which the offender can enter, this ensures individual does not enter proscribed areas such as victim's neighbourhood or local crime spots.


On the other hand the negative impacts on the community are also looked into. For it to work effectively, most of the time other programmes need to be used alongside EM (cost of £12 000 per person) So how cost effective this scheme is can be questioned.

It can be argued that victims feel cheated through lenient (unfair) sentencing as offender is still able to live their life the way they like. This easy-going sentencing can lead to more crimes occurring as many could argue that the lack of incapacitation does not actually stop them offending as individuals could easily participate in offending when tagged. Therefore doesn't enhance community safety to a great extent.

Attitudes to young people- Labelling of other 'ordinary' young offenders in the area.- treated differently if more and more people seen with tag on. This also increases public fear and concern- as people assume crime rates are increasing.


is one of the main uses of EM and ISSP programmes are available for young people on bail, on community sentences and on release from custody. They also provide a mixture of control/surveillance and rehabilitation and encapsulate some of the dilemmas and tensins about the use of EM.

Net widening

increased levels of control and surveillance that affect all young people.

Expansion of social control measures. We can say that those who may not have been sent to prison, may still be subject to EM. Increase use of technology…..

Academic views/theories


-Re use of theory, this is best incorporated into the argument rather than treated separately. In this study there is a range of concepts I am thinking about - incapacitation, rehabilitation, punishment, social control etc as well as labelling. We will know if you understand them from the way that you use them in your discussion/ analysis so it is not necessary to talk about theory directly unless there is a direct link between a particular ideology and introduction of a specific policy

(for instance, the influence of both the risk factor paradigm and rational actor theory on ASBOs)

Labelling- why different people commit certain crimes to 'why some behaviours are labelled criminal and not others, and thus shifts the focus from the actor to the reactor (CJS).' (A. Walsh, 2008: p156). It is not the nature of the act but societal reaction that determines whether a 'crime' has taken place, it looks more into what criminality is and why something is defined as criminal conduct. This theory states that once young people have been labelled as criminal they are more likely to offend.'(Eddie & Morely: 2003 p.552)

Labelling theory has several stages, the making of the rules, labelling recipients (through primary deviance) and the consequences (through secondary deviance) all of which are influenced by the media and moral panics.

Edwin Lemert (1951) made a crucial distinction between primary and secondary deviance. He believed that re-offending was the result of being caught in primary deviance and being stigmatised through name calling and stereotyping because of that can lead to the introduction of secondary deviance where they accept that status.

In other words young people committing petty crimes such as theft and not getting caught can often carry on with life unlikely to re-offend but those that constantly get caught get singled out and eventually come to a conclusion that they are really criminal now and there's no escaping.

The theorist Becker (1963) argued that 'social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them as outsiders' (Becker 1963:4)

He believed that rules including criminal laws are made by people with power and enforced upon people without power and claimed that these rules can be introduced from an irrational and mistaken belief that the new rule would be beneficial to the society. 'Thus even on everyday level rules are made by the old for the young.' (R. H. Burke 2005:p143)

In association to this it could be argued that young people are often misunderstood, moral panics from bad media influence can trigger the government to act upon mistaken beliefs and therefore impose sanctions and rules upon them such as stop and search policies etc. These regulations targeted at the young may be broken and therefore step into the process of labelling. Social structural factors such as gender, social class, ethnic group and time of day may be taken into account when doing so.

'Thus a young, working class black - male in a high delinquency area at night is seen to have a very high chance of being stopped and questioned if not arrested. (Pilivan & Blair, 1964:206). It could also be seen when they label any group of youngsters that appear vaguely threatening as a 'gang'. This typical delinquent labelling leads to police focusing on certain types of individuals.

Strain- Social exclusion is a 'broad concept which implies that certain communities have no stable values and lack effective means of social control.'(Shaw and Mckay, 1942).

It is closely linked in with labelling theory as that can exclude people from society.

It provides a brief overview of why people under achieve (something which stain theory couldn't do). Social exclusion is concept about offenders being left out, alienation and often involved in a cycle of disadvantage, where they can't break free due to lack of opportunities.

It is often connected to a person's social class, educational status, they're overall living standards and how these might affect access to various opportunities

Exclusion can be self or socially imposed intentionally or unintentionally, in which he said divides working class against each other. The use of EM could make a youth feel alienated and unwanted.

Other literature in this area

Is there any real evidence to suggest that EM is actually significant in helping control crime? Whitfield seems to suggest that politicians have used EM in this country as an electioneering tool to impress a public that has an increasing fear of crime (Whitfield 1997:10)

Evaluation (summary)

Evaluate the differences on how electronic monitoring can be seen from the young persons point of view and the general community's point of view.

Needs to provide a firm conclusion, a view based on the evidence you have presented in the body of the assignment. In effect, you should be evaluating all the way through the assinment, presenting and weighing up the information, comment and research findings that you have accessed about EM, and your final conclusions and judgements should flow logically from this.

If electronic monitoring results in increased breach rates, then prison population will be increased, hence cost inefficiency.- On top of what is already spent on EM.

Individual may still offend, so may not be as effective as prison sentence. Fear may still be apparent in the community, knowing they are still able to walk around.

On the other hand the individual be more likely to rehabilitate as community.