Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week Department of Justice staff in Hobart are watching the movements of nearly 60 people around the state wearing electronic monitoring bracelets in Tasmania.
These wearers of ankle bracelets are perpetrators of family violence who have been allowed to wear the device under the terms of a Family Violence Order.
The Monitoring and Compliance Unit watches for people fitted with the ankle bracelets going closer than the distance set down in the FVO, typically about 1000 metres, of the home address of the victim of family violence.
The exclusion zone can be varied for geographical reasons.
If an electronic bracelet wearer goes within the protected distance of the victim's home, the MCU notifies police.
On an opt-in basis, the victims of family violence can be supplied with a device that alerts them if the perpetrator comes within the specified distance.
Project manager Senior Sergeant John Toohey said the bracelets had a sense of increased personal safety to victims of family violence and their children since the trial began in December 2018.
A review of 32 perpetrators who had ankle bracelets fitted for at least six months was recently conducted.
The survey found a fall in the number of physical violations of family violence orders.
"The number and type of family violence incidents committed by these perpetrators was examined, looking at offending 12 months prior to being fitted with the device compared to the trial period," Sen-Sgt Toohey said.
"There were 58 breaches identified during the trial.
"It found that there were 10 incidents which involved a type of physical violence-this is down from 54 incidents in the 12 months prior."
The process starts with a high risk family violence perpetrator being assessed for suitability.
If found suitable a Magistrate makes a decision on whether to allow the applicant to wear the device as part of the FVO.
The Examiner has observed a number of cases in the Launceston Magistrates Court recently where applicants have both been granted the right to wear a bracelet and some where it was refused.
A recent difficulty was for a man who wanted to be released from custody to a north east Tasmanian town where mobile telephone coverage was patchy.
Snr-Sgt Toohey said the bracelets and associated accessories cost about $1245 each. The electronic devices are supplied to Tasmania Police by English firm Buddi Ltd.
"They have a number of technologies contained within them that operate together to provide the geographic location of the device and therefore the person to whom it is attached," he said.
"These technologies include Radio Frequency (RF), Global Positioning System (GPS), Wi-Fi and Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM).
He said the data was transmitted from the device via the telecommunications system so it could be monitored.
"They contain a roaming sim card that connects to the Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone networks," he said.
Snr-Sgt Toohey said that if a wearer was outside telecommunication range, geographical location data was still recorded on the electronic device and transmitted when the wearer next came back into range.
"The Tasmanian program is part of a nation first trial utilising innovative electronic monitoring technology to improve Family Violence Order compliance and increase perpetrator accountability," Snr-Sgt Toohey said.
The trial receives funding support from the Australian Government and is part of the Tasmanian Government's Safe Homes, Safe Families: Tasmania's action plan for family and sexual violence 2019- 2022
The Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies (TILES) is doing an independent review of the trial comparing the process and outcomes against the objectives of the project. The trial runs until June 30, 2020.
Tasmania Police corporate performance reports demonstrate the seriousness of family violence. In 2018-19 there were about 3500 family violence incidents for the year. Police issued 1845 family violence orders and 299 came via the court system. There were 912 breaches of family violence orders.
Recently released figures for the the year to November 2019 reveal that family violence incidents affected 837 juveniles.