Sobriety ankle tags launched to cut alcohol-related crime
- Credit: PA
A scheme to cut alcohol-fuelled crime by fitting offenders with ankle tags that monitor sweat levels has been launched.
The so-called 'sobriety tags' check sweat levels every 30 minutes and alert the probation service if alcohol is detected in their sample.
Offenders caught breaching their drinking ban could face fines or a further sentence in court.
The scheme launched in England on Wednesday following a successful roll-out 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 Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.
Alcohol plays a part in 39% of violent crime, with the social and economic cost of drink-related harm around £21.5billion per year, according to the MoJ.
It is also seen as one of the drivers of domestic violence and unprovoked attacks.
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Conservative incumbent police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, Tim Passmore, welcomed the sobriety tags roll-out.
"I think sobriety tags for people who are repeat offenders and have an alcohol addiction are a very good method to help them overcome their addiction," he said.
"Also, I think it will reduce the level of crime and violence because we know there's a clear correlation between alcohol addiction and increased levels of violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour.
"I would welcome it, and very happy to try it out in Suffolk."
However, the Labour and Liberal Democrat PCC candidates standing against Mr Passmore in the May 6 election were more cautious about the roll-out.
Labour PCC candidate Elizabeth Hughes said: "I feel cautious about the efficacy of these.
"Where you have this idea that because the problem hasn't been addressed, that it's a chronic issue with a perpetrator, is this a last resort? Is this a giving up of trying to resolve the issue to put a tag on a person?
"I would welcome seeing more statistics and data to show how effective this really is."
James Sandbach, Liberal Democrat PCC candidate, said: "It makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable, to be honest, is my immediate reaction.
"Obviously there needs to be a tagging regime for offenders and that's been in place for a long time, but I think there's a potential for tagging schemes to really develop a kind of mission creep, if you like.
"What's the evidence to prove this is an effective way of monitoring offenders and tackling alcohol-related crime?"