Sobriety tags will monitor offenders' drink consumption in Wales

Alcohol-fuelled criminals in Wales can be ordered to wear sobriety tags to monitor their drinking bans.

Kit Malthouse
Kit Malthouse

The ankle tags, which will be extended across the Shropshire border into England next year, will 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.

Violent crime

An estimated 39 per cent 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).

Treatment referrals for alcohol abuse will continue to be made for those with more serious alcohol addictions who commit crimes, the MoJ said.

The new tags were launched in Wales yesterday.

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.

'Proven new tool'

"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.”

The launch of the scheme follows two successful pilots in London and across Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire, where offenders were alcohol free on more than 97 per cent of the days they were monitored.

Offenders who wore them also reported a positive impact on their lives, wellbeing and behaviour.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “I am encouraged to see Wales at the forefront of implementing this new technology, which we believe will contribute towards lowering re-offending rates, making our streets safer and supporting those who need help.”

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