ANY offender who damages their electronic monitoring device will be made to pay for it, Minister of National Security Stuart Young told the Senate on Tuesday. He made the statement during debate on the Administration of Justice (Electronic Monitoring) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, recently passed in the House of Representatives.
Speaking later, Independent Senator Sophia Chote disagreed that offenders should pay for damaged devices, and urged they be maintained by insurance.
Young said 300 devices are supplied within a $10.3 million package including support, but had previously detailed the cost of the devices themselves as $1.4 million for a batch of 150 and $1 million for 100 devices, suggesting each one costs $10,000.
He said a new clause in the bill mandates the offender to compensate the state for ruined devices.
Young said Amalgamated Security had teamed up with Israeli firm Attenti to win a tender properly conducted by iGovTT to procure the devices, software and technical support.
However, he said staff of his ministry would run the system with enforcement by police.
Young said judges could use the devices as a condition of bail. It is also a key tool to provide comfort for domestic violence victims who are virtually screaming out for help, as he lamented that far too many cases end with victims injured or worse. The device will allow real-time protection, he said.
Also the tags can be done instead of confinement, so young offenders don’t have to go to jail amid hardened criminals at a virtual university of crime.
Young said it cost less to monitor a person by electronic tagging than incarcerating them.
He said the bill was originally passed in 2012 by the former government but had never been operationalised. Since then, his ministry established the Electronic Monitoring Unit to provide real-time tracking and report any malfunction, alarm or signal loss. The system is ready to be operationalised and government is conducting ongoing recruitment of staff, and is simply awaiting passage of the bill.
Young listed different types of tracking units. A domestic violence tracking unit will allow for a victim to be warned if the offender comes within a certain range, and for the police to be notified too. He said a new clause in the bill mandates an oath of secrecy be sworn by staff of his ministry’s Electronic Monitoring Unit.