The Department of Corrections has announced it has awarded an up to eight-year, $180 million contract for electronic monitoring equipment to UK-based company Buddi.
“This is a significant opportunity to improve the way that electronic monitoring is used across the justice sector,” says National Commissioner Rachel Leota.
“Partnering with Buddi expands coverage to more communities across New Zealand, enables us to tailor monitoring to an individual’s risk and circumstances and provides us with the ability to look at new and emerging technologies as they come to market.”
Sara Murray OBE, founder and CEO of Buddi says “we are delighted to be working with the New Zealand Department of Corrections to achieve their aims of keeping communities safe and changing lives.
“I am especially proud that our fully inclusive technology service will support the delivery of positive outcomes for all offenders by playing a key part in the delivery of the Hōkai Rangi strategy. Buddi’s technology and service has been developed to deter offenders from committing crimes and, instead, live healthy and sustainable lives, whilst at the same time ensuring they are continually monitored to protect victims and potential victims.”
Currently there are around 5,800 people serving community sentences or orders who are subject to electronic monitoring, including people on parole, home detention and extended supervision orders. People who are temporarily released from prison for employment are also electronically monitored. Of these, around 1,600 people are subject to electronically monitored bail, operated jointly under a shared service model by Corrections and Police.
People who are subject to electronic monitoring are required to wear an electronic monitoring device. If the person tries to tamper with or remove the device or leaves their address or enters an area that they are excluded from, an alert is triggered, which will initiate an appropriate response from Corrections who may escalate the situation to Police.
“Electronic monitoring is used to support better rehabilitation by allowing someone to complete their sentence at home, while giving assurance to victims that alerts are triggered if an offender does not remain in a specific area. It can also enable someone to be at home and care for their family instead of being remanded in custody,” says Ms Leota.
“Not only does the increase in coverage across New Zealand provide more equitable access for people who may have previously been living in an area unsuitable for electronic monitoring, the new contract also enables a risk-based approach to monitoring individuals.
“This means we can tailor a person’s electronically monitored sentence or order based on their risk and individual circumstances, rather than their sentence or order determining how we use electronic monitoring for them.”
To date, a person’s sentence or order has defined the type of monitoring device they receive, being delivered through two different devices that use either radio frequency or GPS technology.
The Smart Tag from Buddi incorporates both radio frequency and GPS in one device which will result in every person subject to electronic monitoring being issued the same device, regardless of their sentence or order. This will give Corrections the ability to change the way it monitors a person after a device has been fitted as they move through the judicial process. New Zealand is one of only a handful of jurisdictions globally which uses electronic monitoring pre-, during and post-sentence.
“Electronic monitoring has proven to be an effective tool in the overall management of people subject to community sentences or bail,” says Ms Leota. “However, it doesn’t replace effective supervision from probation officers, participation in rehabilitation programmes, regular risk assessment and positive support from friends and family.”
The new contract will also enable Corrections to consider new and emerging technology in the electronic monitoring space which could improve the way compliance with sentences and orders are managed.
The contract will be for an initial five-year operational period, plus two rights of renewal of two and one year respectively. A transition period will commence in February 2022.