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: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Pentagon has suggested that, since the campaign started, some 10,000 Isis fighters in Iraq and Syria have been killed  

War with Isis: If the US wants to destroy the group, it will need to train Syrians and Iraqis

David Usborne
David Cameron gives a speech at a Tory party dinner  

In a time of austerity, should Tories be bidding £210,000 for a signed photo of the new Cabinet?

Simon Kelner
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy