25 September 2006
The option for Courts to consider electronic monitoring as a special condition of bail ("EM bail") for defendants remanded in custody awaiting trial, started in Northland and the Auckland region today, said the National Manager of the Police Prosecution Service, Superintendent Graham Thomas.
A person on EM bail will wear a special bracelet that sends a continuous signal to a monitoring unit at their place of residence. The unit is connected to a control centre which records the person's movements 24 hours a day. If the person leaves the vicinity of the unit for an unapproved reason an alarm will be activated and responded to by police.
The New Zealand Police-led initiative, aimed at giving Courts an ability to allow remanded defendants to go on EM bail, after assessment by police for suitability, will be available nationwide by 1 December 2006. It will be rolled out through the rest of the North Island on 6 November and the South Island on 27 November.
Superintendent Thomas said 36 non-sworn EM Bail Assessors are being employed by the Police to manage applications by defendants for EM bail. The assessors will conduct comprehensive assessments so that prosecutors can provide a report to the Court as to the suitability of defendants for this option. Twelve assessors started duties with the Police Prosecution Service in Northland and Auckland today.
"Central to any assessment and recommendation to the Court will be the interests of victims and witnesses involved in cases, community safety generally and, importantly, the need to preserve the integrity of the trial process," said Mr Thomas.
"EM bail enables suitable defendants to remain in their home environment, and possibly for some to continue employment, while still being intensively monitored through their electronic bracelet. By remaining at home, people on EM bail are not exposed to the negative influences that contact with hardened criminals would otherwise present if they were in the prison environment. EM bail is also expected to contribute to a reduction in the number of people remanded in pre-trial custody" said Superintendent Thomas.
Superintendent Thomas said the intensive supervision nature of EM bail, which will be managed very closely by the Police, is not a soft option. "This is new business for the Police and in particular for the Police Prosecution Service. We are determined to do it well," he said.
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