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Out of this world : the advent of the satellite tracking of offenders in England and Wales

Nellis, Mike (2005) Out of this world : the advent of the satellite tracking of offenders in England and Wales. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 44 (2). pp. 125-150. ISSN 0265-5527

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Abstract

In September 2004, the Home Office established three pilot programmes to test the efficacy of the satellite tracking of offenders, a new form of electronic monitoring. Satellite tracking, and the monitoring of exclusion zones which it permits, had been legislated for in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, but the Home Office waited until putatively reliable technology – more reliable than that initially used for tracking in the USA – was available before commencing the pilots. Its arrival was formally announced in the context of a major review of ‘correctional services’, in which electronic monitoring generally is given a clearer strategic role than it has had hitherto in England and Wales. Although snippets of information about satellite tracking were drip fed into the media in the run up to the launch of the pilots, this has been a most under-deliberated initiative. This article was completed just before the commencement of the pilots and aims primarily to open up debate about this new measure. It also argues that the emergence of satellite tracking – monitoring movement rather than just single locations – sheds light on the development of electronic monitoring more generally, whose implications for more humanistic approaches to offender supervision, such as probation, are still not fully appreciated.