2 May 2024

Plan for electronic monitoring of violent offenders expected in three months

| Claire Fenwicke
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The ACT Government has been investigating how to implement electronic monitoring of violent perpetrators in the Territory. Photo: yasharu.

Electronic monitoring of violent perpetrators could be a reality in the ACT in the next 12 months.

Technological options to supervise serious offenders and defendants in the community has long been on ACT Policing’s wishlist. The government agreed at a recent National Cabinet meeting for greater consistency across all jurisdictions to target serial offenders of domestic and family violence.

The 2023-24 Budget contained $377,000 over two years to study and develop a plan on how to best implement electronic monitoring in the ACT.

This work is expected to be completed by August.

“Part of the work being done at the moment is looking at whether one system can do all those things. And what monitoring processes you need, particularly the relationship with police and what impact the monitoring of live tracking options for police response,” Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said.

“We need to make sure that when we create a system, it does what it says it will do.

“The ACT Government sees electronic monitoring as a really important part of a suite of justice responses. It can provide important protections and also monitoring of people to ensure they’re meeting the conditions that have been set down for them.”

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Electronic monitoring can take many forms: live tracking that’s monitored constantly by police officers, an alarm system that alerts a victim if a perpetrator is within their vicinity, or making an electronic location record to see if a person is complying with conditions imposed at bail or parole hearings.

What constitutes a “violent offender” is another definition up for debate.

Mr Rattenbury said domestic and family violence was a key area of focus.

“We do see it as an important way to provide improved preventative protection in family and domestic violence cases,” he said.

Other considerations also include legislative change.

Laws will likely need to be changed or introduced to give the courts the power to impose an electronic monitoring condition, plus establish rules around monitoring and appeals.

“[We’ll] need to set up the various rules and systems so that it’s clear where it can be applied, what is considered to be a breach and what the consequences of that breach are,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“We’re determined to get on with this, it’s not going to take years, we want to get this delivered as soon as possible.”

Intensive Correction Orders are the only current legislative option in the ACT that allows for electronic monitoring. But only in the context of an offender’s compliance with a condition of the order, such as staying away from a certain area or adhering to a curfew.

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Education will be an important aspect of the new system.

Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Minister Yvette Berry said this could include education for the community, support services and police about how such technology could be implemented here.

“I think we are big enough to be able to apply that kind of prevention strategy, but we’re also agile enough because of our size to do it quickly,” she said.

“Really we want to be looking at prevention and stopping domestic violence from happening in the first place, and that means a significant culture shift in our community.

“Governments can fund various supports and justice response, but the community needs to come along the ride as well and change the culture around violence, around respectful relationships, so we can stop this violence and death in the first place.”

Ms Berry said the government was also listening to concerns that certain minority groups could be unfairly or disproportionately targeted by this system.

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Tom McLuckie11:18 am 04 May 24

In 2017, in a report published by JACS (part 2.3) of the Justice Reform strategy it was announced the ACT Government would forge ahead with plans for a drug court and electronic monitoring. The then Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury​ welcomed the phased expansion of the ACT’s restorative justice scheme, which brought perpetrators and victims together, to include adult offenders and, eventually, domestic violence and sexual offences. Why has it taken to 2024 to revisit electronic tagging? Must be election year for Andrew and Shane.

Enders Cramfolst12:00 am 04 May 24

Why just ‘serial violent’ offenders? How about it includes anyone on bail, probation, parole or corrections order for any assault, robbery, burglary, theft, property offences and/or drug trafficking offences? Electronic monitoring of their location with mandatory imprisonment for any breach of the imposed conditions seems reasonable.

I agree,
It should be a condition of any person set free under those conditions.

It would make serial offenders easier to catch before they do more serious harm.

Everyman will need to wear one. If they don’t they are part of the problem.

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