Judges in Northamptonshire will soon be able to order
violent alcoholics to wear bracelets that track their drinking.
Northamptonshire Police are piloting the idea and said it would allow court orders banning problem drinkers to be enforced.
Like electronic tags, police also hope it will provide an excuse for those who want to beat alcohol addiction not to go drinking with friends.
Adam Simmonds, the police and crime commissioner, said: “It means that the courts here will be able to sentence people to sobriety.”
Northamptonshire and London will be the two areas involved in the pilot, which is likely to start in spring 2014.
The idea started in the USA where police use similar bracelets to monitor drink-driving.
They work by measuring the amount of alcohol in the sweat on the wearers’ skin, turning a bright colour if certain levels are detected.
It means that ASBOs and community orders handed down by magistrates and judges, breaches of which can see criminals jailed, can be enforced easily.
At the moment there is a risk that criminals can give negative tests by halting binges and allowing the alcohol to leave their system before a test.
Matt Chester, a policy director at Northamptonshire Police, said: “If you are in a group that puts a lot of pressure on you to drink, it gives people an excuse not to get involved. You don’t lose face and you can help yourself. It’s not a just a punishment, but hopefully it will change behaviours.”
It is estimated that about 44 per cent of all violent offences are committed by people under the influence of alcohol.
AAMRs provide an additional sentencing option for judges and magistrates as a stand-alone requirement, but it is more likely that an AMMR will be one of a number of requirements imposed as part of a community sentence.
AAMRs are aimed at binge drinkers and those that misuse alcohol, but are not alcohol dependent. They require the offender to abstain from consuming alcohol for up to 120 days.
For child protection purposes (the Family Drug and Alcohol Court is trialling the use of a ‘sobriety bracelet’, in an effort to assist the court with its decision-making in care cases)
Mr Chester said: “This needn’t just be about criminality, we could well see people choose to use sobriety bracelets voluntarily.”