One of the European projects that CEP is involved in is the “Electronic Monitoring in Europe” project. Besides the Netherlands 4 other countries take part: Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and Scotland. The aim of this project is to study and evaluate how Electronic Monitoring (EM) is being used in the various phases of the trial process and how effective this method can be(come).
On 11 February 2016 a Dutch national event was organized in Utrecht (the Netherlands) to present and focus on the outcomes of the Dutch research – results that were presented by Miranda Boone, Matthijs van der Kooij and Stephanie Rap.
The three researchers began their presentation with a short history, telling that the use of EM in the Netherlands started in 1995 with a pilot project by the Dutch Probation Service. The introduction of this new method did not at all go smoothly – in fact in the beginning there was a lot of resistance against the new idea and the ways of working that were part of it. However the process went on and nowadays EM is an essential part of the Dutch probation practice.
The research in the project consisted of observations and interviews with both probation officers and their “clients”. One of the important findings was that EM is never a “goal in itself”, but always a “way to reach other goals”, like for example improving the quality of supervision, changing the clients’ behaviour and protecting the victims. For the success of it however it proved to be vital that the offender is willing to cooperate, and that a few important conditions are secured: the offender should have a home and daily activities (either work or education), and should not being severely addicted to drugs/alcohol or being psychiatrically ill.
In the last years a very important and efficient step has been taken through the creation of a so-called “digital window” (online open office) to centralize the communications, applications and contacts in the new EM practices and work areas.
After the presentation on the project research, 3 experts in the field gave their reaction: Ms Soraya Beumer (Dutch Probation Service), Ms. Michèle Blom (Ministry of Security and Justice) and Ms. Jolande uit Beijerse (Erasmus University).
Their overall remarks were that EM is very well on its way to be used more and more as alternative for (short) detention and that it has successfully contributed to reducing recidivism.
A hopeful sign for future developments!