Professor extends electronic monitoring research

A Leeds professor has received European funding to research the effectiveness of alternatives to imprisonment.

Professor Hucklesby and the team who will be working on the project

Professor Anthea Hucklesby and her team who are researching an alternative to custody to reduce prison populations.

A team led by Professor Anthea Hucklesby (School of Law) has been awarded funding by the European Commission, Directorate of General Justice, to examine the use of electronic monitoring as an alternative to custody. The project, entitled Creativity and Effectiveness in the Use of Electronic Monitoring as an Alternative to Imprisonment in EU Member States involves partners from five jurisdictions.

The project aims to compare the operation of electric monitoring (or tagging) for adults in five jurisdictions in order to examine its use at all stages of the criminal justice process and its effectiveness in terms of providing an effective and humane alternative to custody and reducing prison populations. 

Prison populations are growing rapidly and penal administrations across the EU are finding it increasingly difficult to control. The reasons for rising prison populations vary between jurisdictions. In some countries, pre-trial detainees comprise a high and increasing proportion of the prison population. In others, increasing sentences have driven the number up. Most alternatives to prison only tackle one of the problems of population growth, whereas electronic monitoring potentially provides a universal mechanism for reducing prison populations.

Currently electric monitoring is used in most EU member states but it is employed differently. It is utilised at different stages of the criminal justice process and its implementation varies, for example it is used as a standalone measure and/or alongside other community sanctions, the length of curfews and curfew hours vary as does the approach to ending the sentence. 

An ankle tag.

Professor Hucklesby and her team will look at the varied use of tagging and compare the similarities and differences between jurisdictions, whether it is a suitable, workable alternative to imprisonment, and how it can assist in the management and reduction of EU prison populations. 

Despite the widespread use of electric monitoring, evidence about its operation and impact is limited. The findings will begin to fill a significant knowledge gap about the conditions under which tagging can operate as an alternative to imprisonment as well as informing recommendations on best practice to enhance its effectiveness and ensure its legal, ethical and humane use across the EU. 

The work began in May 2014 and runs for two years. In early 2016 conferences will be held in London and Brussels to disseminate the findings of the project alongside a series of regional workshops in specific jurisdictions. The project is supported by an Advisory Board of experts from research user communities across the EU.

Further information about the project is available or contact 

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