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Criminals could be made to wear 'sobriety tags'

Met Commissioner says US-style bracelets would be key weapon in cutting alcohol-related crime

It is the latest accessory modelled by actress Lindsay Lohan and soon the "sobriety bracelet" could adorn the ankles of British criminals too, under proposals being considered by Scotland Yard's Commissioner.

Bernard Hogan-Howe believes the device, which can detect whether offenders have broken a ban on drinking, could be a key tool in a crackdown on alcohol-related crime in the capital.

A trial is underway in Strathclyde, believed to be the first outside the US. The Met Commissioner said there is a "great opportunity" to harness new technology to combat alcohol-related crime, which contributes to as much as 90 per cent of night-time arrests by his force. He told delegates at the London Policy Conference: "The technology bracelet tells the offender whether they are offending. It is important for us to use technology and use these preventative measures around the two areas of alcohol and drug-related crime. You can literally smell the problem by walking around police cells at night," he said.

The police chief said use of the technology in the US had prevented the "vast majority" from breaking bans. The bracelets, often tagged to the ankle, record the wearer's alcohol intake by measuring air and perspiration emissions from the skin every 30 minutes.

It reportedly detects blood alcohol levels as low as 0.02 per cent and can tell when alcohol was consumed before transmitting that information to a base monitoring station.

American courts have ordered the devices be placed on thousands of defendants released on bail and awaiting trial for alcohol-related offences, those on probation, and under-age drinkers.

A US judge ordered Lohan to wear the bracelet after she failed to show up for a probation hearing relating to a 2007 drink-driving case.

It was announced in October the equipment was being introduced in Scotland as part of a pilot scheme for violent offenders receiving community sentences.