Offenders who commit alcohol-fuelled crimes may be required to wear sobriety tags and be banned from drinking under legislation that comes into force in England and Wales on Tuesday. Sobriety tags are another name for alcohol-monitoring bracelets that are worn on the ankle and test for the presence of alcohol in perspiration in real-time. The results are automatically gathered to highlight the frequency and pattern of alcohol consumption.

Under the new legislation, courts will have the power to order those convicted of drink-related crimes to wear an ankle tag for up to 120 days. The first tags are expected to be fitted this year after probation staff have been trained and the monitoring contract agreed. When up and running, it is hoped that as many as 2300 tags will be fitted on offenders every year.

The initiative follows two successful pilot projects, one across Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire, and another in London, when Boris Johnson was mayor. The pilots recorded that 94% of offenders remained alcohol-free during their monitoring period.

People who are found to be breaching an alcohol abstinence order can be brought back before the courts to face further punishment, which could include imprisonment.

Alcohol tags provide opportunities for rehabilitation

Announcing the national rollout, Kit Malthouse MP, the Crime, Policing and Justice Minister, said: “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. While prison will always be the right place for many criminals, tough community sentences like this can help cut reoffending and protect the public.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Humberside, Keith Hunter, said that the use of sobriety tags in his area provided rehabilitation agencies with 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”, he said.

An estimated 39% of violent crime involves an offender under the influence of alcohol, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales. The social and economic cost of alcohol-related harm is calculated by Public Health England as being £21.5 billion each year.

Continuous alcohol monitoring tags get results

With AlphaBiolabs’ SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® (SCRAM CAM®) ankle bracelet, results are automatically gathered and uploaded without the need for an individual’s participation. As shown by the pilot projects, continuous monitoring can provide local authorities, courts and child-protection agencies with the tools to change behaviours in vulnerable and higher-risk alcohol-dependent clients.

You can read more about SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® on our webpage and Frequently Asked Questions. For further information, about our other alcohol testing methods, call AlphaBiolabs now on 0333 600 1300 or email