Sobriety tags roll-out backed by Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner
Sobriety tags that monitor criminals’ alcohol levels every half an hour are expected to be rolled out in Suffolk next year.
The ankle tags, which have already been launched in Wales, monitor an offender’s sweat every 30 minutes and alert the Probation Service if they have consumed any alcohol.
Anyone found breaching an alcohol abstinence order, a new power allowing courts to slap offenders with drinking bans for up to 120 days, can face being hauled back to court for another punishment such as a fine, an extension of the order, or they could be sent to jail.
Probation staff are also alerted when the tags are tampered with and can distinguish between drinks and other types of alcohol such as hand sanitiser or perfume.
An estimated 39% of violent crime involves offenders who are under the influence of alcohol, and the social and economic cost of alcohol-related harm is said to be more than £21 billion a year, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
MORE: ‘Sobriety tags’ to monitor alcohol-fuelled offenders under new legislation
A poll on this newspaper’s website in May revealed 84% of people were in favour of the tags, and Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said he backed the roll-out in the county.
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“There is a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and raised levels of violence, domestic abuse and loutish behaviour. Such bad behaviour is never acceptable and the human and financial costs to society can be huge,” he said.
“We must remember that for every crime committed there is at least one victim – often more and the offenders should be brought to justice.
“There is now substantial evidence showing how effective sobriety tags can be in preventing alcohol induced crimes and also as an aid to helping those who abuse alcohol to change their behaviour for the better.
“I am a big supporter of the tags and look forward to them being used in Suffolk to help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.”
The scheme, which will be extended to England next year, follows two successful pilots in London and across Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire, where offenders were alcohol free on more than 97% of the days they were monitored.
Minister for crime and policing Kit Malthouse said: “All too often we see the devastating effects of alcohol-fuelled behaviour, reckless crimes and casual violence which blight our neighbourhoods and the lives of too many victims.
“This proven new tool can break the self-destructive cycle that offenders end up in, helping them sober up if they choose to and the courts to punish those who don’t.”
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