Electronic tagging bill to be ‘strengthened’ by Scottish Government

Ministers have confirmed plans to “strengthen” Scotland’s justice system by creating a new offence of being unlawfully at large.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf announced that was one of a number of changes to legislation to increase electronic monitoring of offenders.

The change, if passed, will give police new powers of search and entry to apprehend offenders who breach a home detention curfew (HDC).

It comes in the wake of the murder of father-of-three Craig McClelland, from Paisley, who was stabbed to death in July 2017 by James Wright, who at the time was unlawfully at large from his curfew.

Other amendments the Government will put forward to the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill will mean criminals can no longer be relased on HDC if they are serving a long term sentence.

Ministers could also get broader powers to revoke an HDC licence and recall an offender back to prison.

Mr Yousaf said the Bill, being considered by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, was a “key part our wider work to reform the justice system and enhance public safety”.

The Justice Secretary said: “Scotland’s reoffending rate is at a 19 year low and the continued expansion of electronic monitoring increases the options available to manage and monitor people serving all, or part, of their sentence in the community.

“Last year we accepted all the recommendations of HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland in their independent reports into the use of HDC.

“By creating a specific offence of remaining unlawfully at large and introducing changes to the rules around HDC we will further strengthen this important part of our justice system which prepares prisoners for release, reintegrates them into the community and reduces the risk of them reoffending.”