The CEP conference on electronic monitoring held from 10-12 May in Egmond aan Zee, the Netherlands, was the fifth biannual congress on this topic. Tami Mazel, European Marketing&Sales Manager of Elmo-Tech, represented her firm on this and previous congress. She clearly noticed the change in scope the participants have on electronic monitoring. ‘They are more interested in technological aspects and in a wider range of applications than before’, says Mazel.
‘According to what I noticed during the previous conference, two years ago, the participants were using mostly our radio frequency based technology. Only some of them were exploring the possibilities of GPS tracking, but obviously there were still no specific plans for pilots. This year one could see a far broader interest in the possibilities of electronic monitoring.’ Indeed, at this congress participants were asking questions like whether it would be possible to insert a chip under the skin of a human beings as a kind of ID. People asked when they could expect the release of a satellite controlled knee lock, which will force the wearer down when he moves out of an electronically confined space.
The most unexpected question, however, was what kind of products and applications the manufacturers have planned to make for the future. ‘In fact we had expected that the users, in effect conference participants, would tell us what they would need, so we could develop that’, reacts Mazel. ‘We just want to avoid a situation in which the manufacturers tell the users what they need, so we came to the congress to listen to the needs of the user instead of vice versa. This clearly shows that the users are eager for (technological) innovations.’
‘I think this shift in perception of the use of new technologies in probation is a result of the growing acceptance of electronic monitoring methods. The first step in the process of implementing new technologies is always the hardest. The moment that a country starts with electronic monitoring, usually with home detention, a whole framework, consisting of legislation, committees etc, is needed. After that, moving to the next steps, like GPS appliances, is already easier. Moreover, there are more and more countries with experience in electronic monitoring. These countries are eager to hear what are the experiences of the others. And the fact that an increasing number of countries are implementing it, makes it easier for other countries to start with it. That was very obvious during the CEP conference: the Cypriot officials were receiving information about the experiences of the Swiss administrators. They appear to be eager to learn. Likewise, the Finnish officials spoke with the Swedes and there are many more examples. There really was a lot of sharing of information.’