Creativity and Effectiveness in the Use of Electronic Monitoring: A Case Study of Five European Jurisdictions

Anthea Hucklesby, Kristel Beyens, Miranda Boone, Frieder Dünkel, Gill McIvor, Hannah Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The use of electronic monitoring (EM) has grown rapidly in the European Union and elsewhere and is likely to continue to do so but knowledge about its operation and its potential to provide a humane, credible and effective alternative to imprisonment is limited. The research on which this report is based was carried out in five jurisdictions in Europe (Belgium, England and Wales, Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland) which deploy EM in different ways and to varying extents facilitating comparative analysis. The research is the first empirical comparative study of EM. Its aim was to compare the law, policy and practices in the five jurisdictions focussing particularly on EMs capacity to act as an alternative to custody and to identify best practices to enhance its effectiveness and ensure that EM is used legally, creatively, ethically and humanely.
The research included an extensive literature review alongside observations of all aspects of the EM process and 191 interviews with policy-makers and practitioners involved in the provision of EM. The research was carried out between the autumn of 2014 and early 2016. The main findings were:
• EM is used extensively, for diverse purposes and in diverse ways across the 5 jurisdictions.
• Less extensive use of EM is associated with long-term reductions in prison populations and reducing imprisonment rates. By contrast, high prison populations are associated with high use of EM.
• The extent to which the size of the prison population is viewed as problematic is an important determinant of EM use.
• EM has universal appeal because it fits or can be made to fit many purposes.
• Creative use of EM is limited with isolated examples of innovative practices.
• Radio-frequency and GPS technologies have complementary and distinct advantages and uses.
• Private sector involvement in EM is associated with less integration into broader criminal justice structures.
• The greater the involvement of probation in EM the more discretionary decision-making takes place.
• Policies relating to diversity do not generally exist or do not cover all aspects of diversity.
• The limited or non-existent availability of data relating to EM hampers research and restricts judicial and public understanding of EM.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)6-31
Number of pages26
Journal Journal of Offender Monitoring
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventElectronic Monitoring in Europe - Brussel, Brussel, Belgium
Duration: 18 Feb 201618 Feb 2016


  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Comparison


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