Mayor of London and MoJ roll out ‘sobriety tags’ scheme

A scheme to electronically monitor criminals’ intake of alcohol is being introduced across the whole of London after pilots showed it was successful at keeping them off drink.

From April, courts across the capital will be able to put an ankle bracelet on offenders whose crimes were influenced by alcohol and who receive a community-based sentence. The so-called “sobriety tags” will be fitted to people made subject to alcohol abstinence orders.
The tags are tamper-proof and monitor alcohol levels in an offender’s sweat every 30 minutes. The offender has to report to a base station, usually at located at their home, to upload the data to service provider Alcohol Monitoring Systems.
If they drink again, breaching their alcohol abstinence order, they can be returned to court for further sanctions.

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The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has overseen an 18-month pilot of the sobriety tags across four London boroughs, and said the compliance rates compared well those for other community based sentences.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is contributing £400,000 towards the cost of extending the scheme past its initial pilot boroughs from April 2016. MOPAC, which is running the initiative,  is contributing £450,000.
Justice secretary Michael Gove said the initiative would help offenders understand the detrimental impact drinking alcohol can have on their behaviour.
“This innovative approach has delivered impressive results so far and we will be building on them with this wider London roll out,” he said.
Iain Anderson, deputy director of rehabilitation at the London Community Rehabilitation Company, said: “In the initial trials, the sobriety tag has already proved hugely successful in helping those convicted of an alcohol-related crime to deal with the damaging impact of alcohol.
“Through sobriety tagging, we have seen a significant rise in the number of people who comply with their community order and we are really keen to expand this success by using this innovative ‘tool’ to achieve meaningful results.”
According to a recently published report, the tags had a 92 per cent compliance rate. In the first 12 months of the pilot, 113 alcohol abstinence requirement orders were made and offenders were required to remain sober for up to 120 days.
The capital-wide version of the initiative will be reviewed after 12 months before further funding is given.

Colin Marrs

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