Binge drinkers across the UK could be fitted with US-style electronic tags that constantly monitor their alcohol intake in a new scheme to crack down on Britain’s “booze culture”, the Justice Secretary has said.
From today “Booze bracelets” are to be fitted to persistent offenders who are banned by the courts from drinking after they are charged for alcohol fuelled crimes such as drink driving across South London.
In a trial launched by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, courts in Britain will have the power to issue the electronic tag, which records the wearer’s alcohol intake by measuring air and perspiration emissions from the skin every 30 minutes.
At least once every 24 hours, the bracelet is connected to the internet to send alcohol levels to the probation officer.
If the blood or sweat has an alcohol level of more than 0.02 then it will be followed up by a visit by the police or probation officer.
The scheme has been backed by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary the “intriguing project” that would tackle the “root cause” of alcohol related crime. If successful it could be rolled out across the UK.
The tag rose to fame after Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan was forced to wear the bracelet – which tends to be attached to the ankle – after failing to turn up to a probation hearing relating to a drink-driving case.
The tags can be issued in the boroughs of Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton alongside community or suspended sentences, and can be offenders can be compelled to wear them for up to four months.
Offenders will either be given a limit that they are allowed to drink, or banned from consuming alcohol together.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London who will launch the scheme at Croydon Magistrates’ Court, said: “Alcohol-fuelled criminal behaviour is a real scourge on our high streets, deterring law-abiding citizens from enjoying our great city especially at night, placing massive strain on frontline services, whilst costing businesses and the taxpayer billions of pounds.
“I pledged to tackle this booze culture by making the case to Government for new powers to allow mandatory alcohol testing as an additional enforcement option for the courts.
“This is an approach that has seen impressive results in the US, steering binge drinkers away from repeated criminal behaviour and I am pleased we can now launch a pilot scheme in London.’
Alcohol related crime is estimated to cost the UK between £8bn and £13bn every year and places a heavy burden on public services - 40 per cent of all A&E attendances are related to alcohol misuse.
Professor Keith Humphreys, former White House Drugs Advisor, who has advised on the project said: “24/7 sobriety schemes have had a transformative effect on alcohol-fuelled crime in the US and I am delighted that it is now being piloted in the UK, where it is clearly much needed.”