Staff Perspectives on the Electronic Monitoring Research Pilot

Research Highlights

Most CSC staff perceives Electronic Monitoring as an effective and efficient supervision tool to monitor geographic conditions.

Why we are doing this study

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) implemented a pilot of Electronic Monitoring (EM) services through a phased approach, by region, between July and November 2015. Currently, both moderate and high risk offenders who receive a special geographic condition are eligible for the EM pilot.

The EM Research Pilot is a multi-year project which examines the effects of EM on offenders, staff, and stakeholders, as well as on community supervision practices and public safety. Given that various methods of data collection are underway, this report presents preliminary findings regarding the impact of EM on staff and community supervision practices.

What we are doing

CSC staff with experience in EM were invited to participate in an online questionnaire. A total of 112 Community Parole Officers (CPOs), Parole Officer Supervisors (POSs), National Monitoring Centre staff and other CSC staff reported having experience with EM during the previous six months. These respondents were asked for their opinion regarding EM as a supervision tool, as well as the impact of EM on case management and on offenders. The types of questions asked depended on the respondent’s position; therefore not all staff received the same questionnaire.

What we have found so far

The majority of CSC staff with EM experience believes that EM is both an effective (91.9%) and efficient (84.4%) supervision tool to monitor geographic conditions, and that its use improves public safety (80.3%). The availability of EM has increased the ability to detect both an increase in offenders’ risk (60.0%) and breaches of conditions (71.1%), according to the majority of CPOs. A sizeable majority of respondents agree that the referral criteria for the research pilot are appropriate (75.7%).

The majority of CPOs felt that EM does not have a negative impact on various aspects of the daily lives or relationships of offenders, including the ability to find employment (75.6%) or housing (77.3%), and their relationships with their spouse/partner (57.8%) or children (63.6%). A large proportion of CPOs indicated that EM did not contribute to offenders being any more or less likely to attend educational programs (84.4%), treatment programs (75.6%) or attend supervision visits (81.8%).

Just over half (55.2%) of the CPOs and POSs reported that EM has changed the volume of work required for their positions. Results were mixed in terms of the proportion of CPOs who agree (31.1%), disagree (42.3%), or are undecided (26.7%) as to whether the availability of EM has changed their confidence in the ability to prevent reoffending.

What it means

This research provides initial promising results regarding EM as a valuable supervision tool to monitor geographic conditions. Despite a change in workload, most CPOs and POSs recognized the potential of EM in improving case management.

Although EM is not viewed by staff to negatively impact the daily lives or relationships of offenders, future research will examine this more directly by considering the perspectives of offenders on EM.

For more information

Please e-mail the Research Branch or contact us by phone at (613) 995-3975.

You can also visit the Research Publications section for a full list of reports and one-page summaries.

Prepared by: Laura Hanby & Allison Nelson