Prisoners could wear tags after leaving jail to stop them drinking
Criminals could be forced to wear sobriety tags after leaving prison to keep them from drinking in bid to cut reoffending rates
- Serious and prolific criminals will soon wear electronic tags that detect alcohol
- Alcohol plays a part in 39 per cent of all violent crime in the United Kingdom
- North Wales probation officer Amy Ellie said the tag ‘forces people to be honest’
Prisoner are to be banned from drinking when they are freed from jail under a tough new crackdown on violent offenders.
Serious and prolific criminals will be forced to wear an electronic tag – which triggers an alarm if it detects alcohol in their system – to prevent them from reoffending.
They will be required to wear the devices for up to a year under the scheme, which ministers said was a ‘world first’. The technology has already been used in the UK for those on community sentences – but this is the first time it has been imposed on prison-leavers. If alcohol is detected in sweat, the tag sounds an alarm in a monitoring centre to alert probation officers.
Serious and prolific criminals will be forced to wear an electronic tag that triggers an alarm if it detects alcohol in their system (File image)
The alert could be deemed a breach of licence conditions and see ex-offenders returned to prison. Alcohol plays a part in 39 per cent of all violent crime in the UK. Around 12,000 offenders will wear the tags over the next three years, beginning in Wales from today and rolling out in England next summer.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: ‘This technology has been successful in policing community sentences with offenders complying over 97 per cent of the time.
‘Rolling the tags out further will help cut alcohol-fuelled crime, which causes untold misery for victims and lands society with a £21billion bill each year.
‘Offenders now have a clear choice. If they don’t work with probation staff to curb their drinking and change their ways, they face being sent back to jail.’
He added: ‘We are the first government in the world to use alcohol monitoring tags on offenders coming out of jail to reduce their risk of reoffending.’
Amy Ellie, a North Wales probation officer, said: ‘The tag forces people to be honest. That honesty opens up conversations that we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to have.
‘Now we can see if their consumption is reasonable, or if there’s a worrying pattern, and if so, what is contributing to that pattern.’
Andy Roberts, of Greater Manchester Probation Service, who led an alcohol-monitoring pilot scheme, said: ‘We found the tag acted as a constant reminder.
‘Offenders said they were less likely to do something “stupid” or “reckless” and it brought clarity to bigger decision making.’ Earlier this year, the Government introduced GPS tags to track prolific robbers, thieves and burglars.
Up to 10,000 such offenders are expected to be tagged over the next three years to stop them reoffending and help police catch them if they commit new crimes.
In total, an extra £183million is being invested to almost double the number of people tagged at any one time from around 13,500 this year to approximately 25,000 by 2025.
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