Written Answers. - Electronic Tagging Schemes.

Gerard C. Connolly


39 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Justice whether she has concluded the examination directed by her into the implementation of an electronic tagging programme of habitual criminal offenders as first referred to in her reply to a parliamentary question on 15 May 1996; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9103/97]

My Department has been monitoring the progress of electronic tagging schemes being run on a pilot basis in Britain and Sweden. I understand that the Swedish authorities are preparing a second report on their pilot scheme and I am awaiting its publication. Trials in selected areas in Britain are continuing, and I understand that they too will publish their findings. When both of these reports are available I will be in a better position to decide on whether electronic tagging could be satisfactorily used in this jurisdiction.

As I stated to the House last May, there are certain factors that might impact on the success of a tagging scheme in this jurisdiction. For example, some of the available research suggests that any electronic tagging system would need to have over 1,000 participants for it to be value for money. In addition, every person placed on a tagging order would need to have a telephone or a dedicated line installed in their home. Each offender would need to be assessed for suitability and the offender's consent would be required. An assessment would also have to be made of the offender's domestic environment. Apart from all of this it would, of course, be necessary to consider the legal issues involved. The examination of this issue is ongoing in my Department and I will make a decision on the matter once I have received all available information.