UK courts can now punish people who have committed alcohol-fuelled crimes by mandating that they wear a sobriety tag; a device that measures a person’s alcohol levels every 30 minutes.
As of this week, courts can order offenders to wear a sobriety tag for up to 120 days, the government confirmed.
The IoT devices echo those used to monitor location and enforce court set curfews, but provide greater scrutiny by measuring a person’s sweat, analysing it for consumed alcohol that is excreted from the body. If an offender is found to have breached court-mandated abstinence requirements, they could face further fines or imprisonment.
Crime, Policing and Justice Minister Kit Malthouse MP commented: “Alcohol-fuelled crime blights communities and puts an unnecessary strain on our frontline services. Smart technologies like sobriety tags not only punish offenders but can help turn their lives around.”
A 2017 (the latest) report from the Office for National Statistics found that roughly 29.2 million adults in England drank alcohol that year, with 39 percent of violent crimes reported to be committed under the influence of alcohol. The economic and social cost of alcohol-related harm is thought by the government to be £21.5 billion a year.
Sobriety Tag Pilots
The technology has gone through two public pilots in the UK, one in London and a second across Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire. The two pilots were deemed to have a high success rate as offenders taking part were alcohol free for 97 percent of the days on which they were monitored.
Keith Hunter, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Humberside commented: “During the trial in our area they provided rehabilitation agencies a real opportunity to work with the individual and get them to recognise and change their behaviour. Undoubtedly their use will help reduce the number of victims of alcohol-related crime, many in domestic situations, and aid the rehabilitation of offenders as they become a standard feature of the Criminal Justice System.”
US-based SCRAM System has designed the technology being used by the UK courts. The monitoring system has been used in numerous locations across the world, monitoring more than 750,000 people.
The SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM CAM) alcohol tag is fitted around an offender’s ankle, where it takes a sweat sample every half an hour. The system can identify alcohol-based products such as hand sanitisers which may be used in an attempt to trick or mask a user alcohol consumption. The ankle bracelet also detects when it is no longer in contact with a person’s skin deterring any tapering attempts.