Anti-alcohol ankle tags: They didn't work for Lindsay Lohan and they won't work for us

The big problem is where it all might lead

Share

Bar-room brawlers and drink-drivers beware. Lindsay Lohan is coming to get you – or, to be more accurate, the anti-alcohol device for which she became the pin-up girl is headed for one of your ankles.

Lohan is the alky-tag trailblazer: seven years ago she was fitted with a SCRAM bracelet – it stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring – and immediately turned it into a fashion item by posing in it next to a surfboard. Not that is seems to have done her much good, given that she’s been in and out of rehab ever since and is currently undergoing enforced psychotherapy as part of a sentence imposed following a car crash in 2012.

But whether it works or not, as part of the Alcohol Abstinence and Monitoring Scheme four south London boroughs – Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton – will shortly be attaching transdermal ankle tags, which measure the alcohol content of perspiration, to around 150 offenders for a four-month trial

The Americans swear by them – in South Dakota, according to a former White House adviser on drugs, Professor Keith Humphreys, repeat drink-driving offences have dropped by 12 per cent and domestic violence arrests have gone down by nine per cent. And if they help reduce alcohol-fuelled recidivism – even save lives, perhaps, if levels of drink-driving go down – what possible objection can any sane, reasonable person have?

In fact they raise one of the biggest questions facing us today – the question of how much we want to be governed, how much control over our lives we are willing to concede to any government (particularly a government that gets itself elected with just over a third of the popular vote, like our current lot). The tags highlight the huge contradiction at the heart of most right-wing politics: the Tories, like their foaming-at-the-mouth counterparts in the United States, want less government, not more. But this is more government, not less.

I appreciate that the tags will only be slapped on those who’ve broken the law: those involved in drunken fights or over-the-limit driving are the targets, not those of us in the habit of having a glass of wine or two – or even three – after a long, hard day at work (even if we are riding roughshod through government guidelines as we do it).

The big problem is where it all might lead. Pretty soon, I’m sure, ankle tags will be over, taken to the Antiques Roadshow or Flog It! to be valued as curios. They’ll be superseded by chips in the skin or skull implants, or health-police nanobots cruising round our bloodstream monitoring our daily intake of food and drink and anything else we might choose to imbibe. Those chips or implants will become increasingly sophisticated, until they’re sending alarm signals to the police whenever a subversive thought is detected. This might seem absurdly far-fetched, way beyond anything the government presently intends. Ever heard of mission creep?

READ NEXT:
The reality of life under Israel's Iron Dome
The Ebola outbreak teaches us an important lesson about aid  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral