NEW legislation which will allow GPS monitoring of criminals has been lodged at Holyrood. If passed, it could see exclusion zones set up which offenders are forbidden from entering, as part of efforts to protect victims.

The legislation would also allow for the use of devices that can tell if someone has taken alcohol or drugs.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the changes in the Management of Offenders Bill increased the options available for monitoring people who are serving a sentence in the community.

He said: “Our justice reforms have delivered large reductions in re- offending and I am determined to build on the progress made.

“It’s our duty to ensure victims see that people who are convicted of an offence are held to account, and they can be assured by the opportunities that electronic monitoring can offer including, in future, the use of exclusion zones.”

Nancy Loucks, chief executive of the charity Families Outside, which works to support the relatives of prisoners, said the changes could result in fewer jail sentences being imposed. She said: “Electronic monitoring offers a valuable tool for reducing the use of imprisonment. Prison fractures families whereas, with the right support in place, electronic monitoring can keep families together, thereby maintaining social supports and reducing the risk of further offending.”

The bill also sets out to reduce the length of time for which people have to disclose details of some past offences, in a bid to make it easier for former offenders to find work.

Under the current rules, which date back to 1974, someone jailed for six months has to disclose details of this for seven years. The new legislation would cut this to 30 months.

Matheson said: “Changes to the length of time people will have to disclose their convictions can make a huge difference to those who genuinely want to turn their lives around. This is a key part of breaking generational cycles of offending behaviour.”