Racial surveillance and the mental health impacts of electronic monitoring on migrants


Since the late 1990s, the government has used outsourced electronic monitoring (also known as tagging) in England and Wales for criminal sentencing and punishment. Under the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004, s36, the use of this technology extended to immigration controls, and individuals deemed as ‘high risk’ of harm, reoffending or absconding can be fitted with an ankle device and subjected to curfew. The tagging of migrants is not authorised by the criminal court and therefore not considered a punitive sanction. It is managed by the immigration system and treated as an administrative matter. Nevertheless, people who are tagged experience it as imprisonment and punishment. Drawing on data from an eighteen-month ethnographic research project, this article examines the impact of electronic monitoring on people seeking asylum, who completed their sentences for immigration offences. It uncovers the psychological effects and mental health impacts of such technologies of control. The article sheds light on how tagging is experienced by racialised minorities, and adds to the literature on migration, surveillance studies, state racism and violence. Keywords: crimmigration, electronic monitoring, e-carceration, surveillance, state racism, Home Office, migration, mental healt

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