Ankle tags for people who commit alcohol-linked crime to monitor their drinking in pilot scheme

A pilot scheme monitoring the drinking of people who repeatedly commit alcohol-related crimes will be trialled in four London boroughs 

Offenders who repeatedly commit alcohol-related crime will be forced to wear ankle tags that monitor if they are still drinking, under a year-long pilot scheme.

The "sobriety tags" aim at enforcing abstinence by measuring a person's perspiration every half an hour and testing for traces of alcohol.

If any trace is discovered, an alert will be sent to the offender's probation officer and they can then be recalled to court, where they could face sanctions such as a fine or even be re-sentenced.

The 12-month scheme is being trialled in four London boroughs - Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton and is being backed by the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

The tags register alcohol consumption, but do not keep track of people's movements or where they are.

Up to 150 offenders could be fitted with the tags under the new scheme. They will be banned from drinking alcohol for up to 120 days, and the tag will test them to see if they flout the ban.

Offenders will be screened before they are chosen to wear the ankle tag. People who are alcohol-dependent and need specialist support will not be a part of the scheme.

Mr Johnson 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."

The scheme builds on a similar scheme in the US and aims to reduce alcohol-related re-offending, ease pressure on the police and courts, and make streets safer.

Alcohol-related crime is estimated to cost the UK between £8 billion and £13 billion every year, while 40 per cent of all accident and emergency attendances are related to alcohol misuse.

Additional reporting by PA