Ankle bracelets. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Police

Abu Dhabi: More than 130 offenders benefited from wearing electronic surveillance tags as an alternative to going to jail for minor offences in Abu Dhabi last year, Abu Dhabi Police officials said on Wednesday.

The ankle monitors were first used in 28 cases as an alternative to imprisonment after final judgments issued by the judicial department, while another 105 were fitted with the ankle monitors as an alternative to pre-trial jail or detention, totalling 133 cases, according to Brig Ahmad Masoud Al Mazroui, director of police follow-up and subsequent care in the community security sector.

Abu Dhabi Police launched the technology in October 2017 and implemented it in January 2018 in coordination with the judicial department and public prosecution in Abu Dhabi.

Brig Ahmad Saif Bin Zaitoon Al Muhairi, director of the community security sector at Abu Dhabi Police, said the move aims to reintegrate convicts from Abu Dhabi’s Punitive and Correctional Establishment into mainstream society and reduce repeat offender numbers. “Police are keen to implement best international practices and use latest equipment and technologies to provide the best services in order to gain the trust and satisfaction of the community,” he said.

Al Mazroui said ankle tags give offenders an opportunity to change their behaviour and reintegrate into society by keeping them in a social environment until their sentences are served. It also helps offenders take care of their financial and economic situation by allowing them to continue working during their sentence.

The application of electronic surveillance also helps convicted university students complete their studies. It allows unemployed people to appear for interviews, offer prayers in mosques, attend court sessions, go to hospitals and health clinics for treatment, and it has a positive impact on the individual, the family and the community, said Al Mazroui. The device also helps reduce overcrowding in prison, minimising the cost to the state.

What is an electronic tag?

It is a device fitted around a convict’s ankle. It allows police to monitor the convict’s movements and ensure compliance with specific conditions and restrictions. The police operations room monitors the tags around the clock. An officer is even assigned to be on call to provide assistance if and when required.

How the device functions

The electronic tag functions in two ways. First, through continuous radio broadcasts and second, electronic surveillance via satellite, where the anklet sends signals to the operations centre. In case of removal or manipulation, the device alerts the operations centre.

Two free hours from surveillance

Offenders who abide by the rules of surveillance are rewarded with two surveillance-free hours a day to encourage positive behaviour.