Criminals could be made to wear 'sobriety tags' to combat alcohol-fuelled crime

Alcohol-fuelled criminals could be required to wear ‘sobriety tags’ which monitor their sweat every 30 minutes.

The tags will alert the probation service if alcohol is detected in their sweat sample. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said offenders caught breaching their drinking ban could face fines or a further sentence in court.

The scheme is being launched in England today after a successful rollout in Wales last October.

More than 100 offenders have been tagged in Wales so far and remained sober on more than 95% of the days they were monitored, the MoJ said.

Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse MP said: “These tags have already brought enormous benefit to Wales since they were introduced in October, with one offender I met saying it not only changed his ways, but also saved his life.

“This smart and powerful new tool is helping the fight against alcohol-fuelled violence, which ruins too many lives and families and creates mayhem in our town centres.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse
Policing minister Kit Malthouse

The tags are able to distinguish between drinks and other types of alcohol – so won’t be wrongly triggered by hand sanitiser or perfume.

Probation officer Laura Harrison said: “Sobriety tags have had an enormously positive effect on the people I’ve supervised in Wales, improving their mental health, keeping them off drink and out of trouble with the police.

“One man with a history of drink-related violence was given a tag for 90 days and has been sober ever since and says the scheme helped him turn his life around.”

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Those fitted with the tags will also receive professional support to help them tackle their drinking issues.

Tags will only be used on offenders over the age of 18, who are not alcohol-dependent or on an alcohol treatment requirement.

Alcohol plays a part in 39% of violent crime, with the social and economic cost of drink-related harm around £21.5 billion per year, the MoJ said.

It is also seen as one of the drivers of domestic violence and unprovoked attacks.



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