The Mayor of London has launched the UK’s first compulsory sobriety ‘tag’ scheme for binge drinkers. Yesterday, a 24-year-old man from Croydon became the first person to have one fitted after admitting unlawful violence.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has launched the first scheme in the UK that will enforce alcohol abstinence among offenders who binge drink through compulsory use of ankle tags.
The mandatory round the clock tag, which first rose to prominence after Lindsay Lohan was ordered to wear one for repeatedly breaking the terms of a 2007 ban for drink-driving, monitors alcohol perspiration in an offender. The tag sends a report of alcohol levels in the skin to probation officers every 30 minutes.
Yesterday, a 24-year-old man from Croydon became the first person to have one fitted after admitting unlawful violence, as part of a year-long pilot of the scheme that has begun in the South London Local Justice Area, covering the Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton.
"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" said Boris, who visited Croydon Magistrates’ Court to launch the scheme.
"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."
It is anticipated that between 100-150 offenders will be sentenced by the courts to an ‘alcohol abstinence monitoring requirement' where they will be banned from drinking any alcohol for up to 120 days and tested constantly using the new ankle tag.
Building on similar successful schemes in the US, and using tried and tested technology, the aim is to reduce alcohol related re-offending, ease the pressure on the police and the criminal justice system and make our streets and town centres safer, particularly at night. 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. According to Public Health England, alcohol-related crime is significantly higher in London than all other English regions.
If an offender breaches the sobriety order, they can be returned to court where further sanctions can be imposed. These sanctions can include a fine, making the order more onerous by adding additional requirements, or revoking the order and resentencing the offender. Persistent non-compliance may ultimately result in imprisonment.