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‘Sobriety tags’ to monitor alcohol-fuelled offenders under new legislation

Criminals who commit alcohol-fuelled crime may be banned from drinking and made to wear sobriety tags  Picture: DAVID JONES/PA WIRE

Criminals who commit alcohol-fuelled crime may be banned from drinking and made to wear sobriety tags Picture: DAVID JONES/PA WIRE

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Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner has welcomed plans to fit criminals who commit alcohol-fuelled offences with ‘sobriety tags’ to monitor court enforced abstinence.

The ankle tags, to be rolled out across the country later this year, monitor sweat to determine if alcohol has been consumed.

Breaching an abstinence order could result in being returned to court for further sanctions, including a fine, extended order or even imprisonment.

The new legislation has been brought in following a pilot in Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire, and another in London, which resulted in offenders being alcohol free on 97% of days monitored.

Courts will be able to order offenders to wear a tag for up to 120 days – monitoring their sweat every 30 minutes.

The technology can distinguish between alcohol-based products, such as hand sanitiser, that could be used to mask alcohol consumption – and can detect when contact between the skin and tag has been blocked.

An estimated 39% of violent crime is committed under the influence of alcohol, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales – with the social and economic cost of alcohol-related harm valued at £21.5bn a year.

Crime, Policing and Justice Minister Kit Malthouse MP said tough community sentences like sobriety tags can help cut re-offending, protect the public and help turn their lives around.

Humberside’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) Keith Hunter said the trial provided rehabilitation agencies a real opportunity to work with individuals to recognise and change their behaviour.

Suffolk’s PCC Tim Passmore said: “Alcohol related crime, and particularly alcohol-fuelled violence, is a problem right across the country so I personally welcome any measures which tackle the root causes of this issue. If having the tag also helps the offenders to deal with their addiction this could have an impact on re-offending, which is very positive.

“Anything that can help reduce alcohol-fuelled crime is certainly worth a try and I would be interested to see the impact that the use of these tags has had on crime in the pilot areas. Ultimately, measures like this should help to make our communities safer, so I think it is a good idea.”


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