As the Gender-Based Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) records an increase in domestic violence reports, there are now 250 electronic monitoring devices available to be assigned to offenders.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds yesterday lamented the abuse women and children face, saying the technology may prevent someone from being a homicide statistic.
“We come here with the understanding that this measure in electronic monitoring can prevent some of those circumstances. That is our hope, that is our prayer,” Hinds said.
Hinds said the procurement, installation and maintenance of the 250 devices will cost the state roughly $10.3 million over a three-year period and will be managed by an electronic monitoring unit headed by Desmond Hamilton and Lawrence Hinds.
Staffing the unit will cost $1.7 million annually.
The unit announced yesterday that already, six people have been tagged, one of them being a child. A further 35 sexual assault and domestic violence offenders may soon be put into the system depending on if they access bail.
So far, over 1,000 police officers have received training in this field.
The technology can now be used as a condition of bail or in lieu of prison time.
“So rather than having them incarcerated where they cannot work and earn money to take care of their children, electronic monitoring allows the state to manage them,” Hinds said.
Not everyone can qualify to be tagged, however, as those charged with murder or treason are not eligible.
Also, in most cases, the consent of the offender is needed before they are given the ankle bracelet. However, in cases of domestic violence, the judge can make wearing it mandatory.
There is also a fee attached to the process. The victim will have to pay $8 per day for a device. The ankle bracelet alone for the offender costs $9 a day and the home monitoring system will cost the offender $11 per day. The victim, if they so choose, will be equipped with a device to monitor the whereabouts of the wearer.
“This device will be able to read the information coming from the offender,” explained Lawrence Hinds.
“The victim will receive all the information coming from the monitored person to indicate where that person is, thus giving them the ability to move and the device can also call the centre where we can speak with an individual and there are police officers attached to the centre where we can render assistance.”
Inclusion and exclusion zones will be pre-programmed into the bracelet, which will be monitored using GPS and telecommunications infrastructure.
Hinds said they will take into consideration that not all areas in Trinidad and Tobago receive cellular coverage.
“If someone proceeds to an area where there is no or weak GPS, remember we are already monitoring you, we know where you are going, so we will advise, move away,” the deputy director said.
He said there are also fail-safes to ensure that if the device malfunctions on its own the wearer is not penalised, as the fine for tampering with the bracelet is $100,000 and two years’ imprisonment.