From the 7th-9th of May, Egmond aan Zee hosted for the sixth time (!) the he CEP Conference on Electronic Monitoring (EM). Bigger than ever (close to 200 participants), more controversial than ever (discussion on an EM device which could incapacitate its bearer with an electroshock), and higher appreciated than ever, it seemed to be the right moment bring the next conference to a more electrifying place. Susana Pinto, one of the organizers of the conference, looks back and ahead. “I am very satisfied with the EM 2009 conference. I would be delighted if the next conference could take place in Lisbon.”

Over the years the CEP EM conference has become known as the platform par excellence for being updated about the newest technical developments in EM, to hear the latest experiences with EM from the different probation services, and to exchange ideas on the topic. Therefore the 6th edition of the conference drew an audience of EM specialists from over 20 European countries, and even as far as from Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

“I think that this conference was very well organized”, says  Susana Pinto, head of the EM programme of the Oporto regional unit of the Portuguese probation service. “The instructions for the speakers, the supporting staff and for the sponsors were all very clear. With regard to that last group, I know that some participants have some difficulties with their presence at the conference. But I think you should be realistic. EM is about equipment. Then inviting the manufacturers to the conference and giving them time to show the latest technological developments in EM is unavoidable. It is true, giving a place to people from the industry in the conference programme always is a big challenge for the organizing committee. But I think that we have managed to find a balance between the input from the profit and the non-profit sector.”

Nevertheless Susana Pinto does acknowledge that there is room for improvement. “We had invited a manufacturer from South-Africa to speak about his view on ethics, law and technology. The way he filled in his programme item  was somewhat of a disguised company presentation. That was not quite as we had planned it to be; that was indeed a learning point.”

In another regard this presentation gave the participants of the conference food for thought . Derek House, Chief Operating Office of the South African company  Shadow Tagging System, explained that his company is seriously studying the possibility of producing  a brace which could give electroshocks if the bearer leaves the area he is confined to. “The audience was baffled”, Susana Pinto recalls. “Some people even didn’t believe this could be true. I think it is a very worrying development and it is good that our participants from South Africa could take notice of our reaction. If South Africa would like European countries to help them with developing their EM practice, then they should be aware that this conflicts with the European ethics. So I think it was important for everyone at the conference that this topic was raised.”

Another matter that exercised many minds occurred at the closing of the conference. After being held six times in Egmond aan Zee, CEP Secretary General Leo Tigges announced that the next issue of the CEP EM conference will be held in another European country. Although the new location has not yet been fixed, Susana Pinto brings Portugal forward as a candidate.  “Probation in Portugal is growing. More and more probation professionals from Portugal visit conferences abroad. Against this background it seems natural to me that you also start organising conferences yourself. Concerning the programme for the next conference, I do endorse the idea to focus more on the role of EM in probation. In other words: how can it contribute to desistance of the offender in the most optimal way? What are the best practices and pitfalls? That would be very interesting to discuss. But first let us see where the next conference will be held, and then we can start discussing the programme of the 7th Electronic Monitoring Conference.”

Presentations

Overview of the documents related to the CEP Electronic Monitoring conference, held from the 7th to the 9th of May 2009 in Egmond aan Zee, the Netherlands.

Conference based documents in English:

Conference programme

Plenary sessions – presentations in English:

Workshops – presentations in English:

Workshops – presentations in French:

Presentations of sponsors of the conference:


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