Offenders who have committed “alcohol-fuelled” crimes may be required to wear “sobriety tags”, as well as being banned from drinking under new legislation that will come in force in England and Wales from Tuesday
Courts in the UK will have the power to order those convicted of alcohol-related crimes to wear ankle monitors for a period of up to 120 days. The ankle monitor assesses whether or not there is any alcohol in the sweat of those wearing it.
The ankle monitors are expected to be fitted this year after probation staff have been trained and the suitable contracts for monitoring have been agreed. When the new devices are ready to be used, as many as 2,300 are likely to be worn by offenders every year.
A recent survey has revealed that Brits are choosing to avoid the booze during the country-wide lockdown, despite a 78% rise in sales of beer, wine, and spirits.
This new initiative comes after successful pilot projects, including one carried out in London when the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was the mayor. People who are found to be breaching their abstinence from alcohol order can be brought before the courts to face further punishments, including imprisonment.
Announcing the national rollout, Kit Malthouse MP, the crime, policing and justice minister, said:
“Alcohol-fuelled crime blights communities and puts an unnecessary strain on our frontline services.
“Smart technologies like sobriety tags not only punish offenders but can help turn their lives around. While prison will always be the right place for many criminals, tough community sentences like this can help cut reoffending and protect the public.”
Two successful pilot projects, one across Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire and another in London, showed that 94% of offenders stayed sober during the period that they had been monitored.
Keith Hunter, the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Humberside, said: “During the trial in our area they provided rehabilitation agencies a real opportunity to work with the individual and get them to recognise and change their behaviour.
“Undoubtedly their use will help reduce the number of victims of alcohol-related crime, many in domestic situations, and aid the rehabilitation of offenders as they become a standard feature of the criminal justice system.”
According to data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, an estimated 39% of violent crime that occur within the UK involves an offender being under the influence of alcohol. Public Health England calculates that the social and economic cost of alcohol-related harm is £21.5bn per year.
This news comes after Nottingham Police broke up a street party with DJ and BBQ during the coronavirus lockdown.
An unidentified offender, who wore one of the tags in the Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire pilot scheme, said: “Since I had the tag removed I feel 100% in control of my drinking. I was worried to begin with that when I had the tag taken off I might go back to drinking again but the process gave me a better understanding of alcohol. I also didn’t want to go back to court.”
“I no longer need a drink to manage my emotions which is down to the tag and my probation officer – I’m much happier with my life now and pleased that more people can benefit from my experience of wearing the tags.”