London test scheme to make criminals committing drink-related offences wear bracelets to monitor blood alcohol levels
US-style sobriety bracelets for criminals who are persistently convicted of drink-related offences are to be tested this summer in London.
The small-scale scheme will see offenders who are problem drinkers and commit high-volume alcohol-related offences ? such as drunk and disorderly, criminal damage and common assault ? given a conditional caution, justice ministers announced.
About 300 offenders this summer are to be given the choice of accepting the sobriety conditions and having their alcohol intake monitored or facing prosecution and the prospect of a drinking ban order imposed on them.
The offenders will be tagged with the bracelets which monitor blood alcohol levels and transmit them to a base station every 30 minutes. Those who fail to comply with the conditions will be prosecuted for the original offence. A second scheme outside London will target offenders involved in more serious drink-related offences. A total of ?400,000 is to be made available to fund the schemes.
The London mayor, Boris Johnson, welcomed the scheme in the capital but said a much larger one was needed.
The Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, believes up to 9,000 offenders in the capital would be suitable to be tagged under the scheme.
Kit Malthouse, the deputy mayor in London responsible for crime and policing, said: "We hope this will now be the template for the wider reforms needed to fully implement the wider sobriety scheme we're lobbying for which can successfully tackle wider issues like domestic violence and makes people pay for daily testing. The success of South Dakota proves that removing alcohol really reduces violent crime."
The South Dakota 24/7 sobriety programme was launched in 2005 and combined intensive testing and monitoring of alcohol and drug consumption with swift punishment for infractions.
Alcohol charities offered a cautious response to the schemes here. Simon Antrobus, chief executive of Addaction, said problem drinkers could not simply be forced to stop drinking: "Our main concern is you just can't enforce abstention. A lot of the people we work with will have significant alcohol problems.
"People really need to look at the treatment that's already out there and the counselling that's out there because it really does work."
Alcohol Concern chief executive, Eric Appleby, said: "I think it's a populist measure. The important thing about this is that it shouldn't just be seen as a punitive measure.
"The use of the testing must be part of a wider regime to actually help the person address their drinking as a process of rehabilitation. Just simply to stop them drinking is not going to help anyone much."