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The use of electronic sobriety tags which monitor alcohol intake will be ramped up for people who have committed violent crimes, after the tags helped more than 97 per cent of offenders stay sober. 

The success of the tags, which can detect alcohol in perspiration (sweat), follows the roll out of a Welsh pilot scheme in April 2021, which saw use of the technology extended to England.

Out of 3,121 offenders who wore an alcohol tag to monitor their alcohol consumption, an incredible 3,027 remained sober.

Crime and policing minister, Kit Malthouse, has confirmed that use of the tags will be stepped up to monitor violent offenders, with the Ministry of Justice announcing that more sobriety tags will be rolled out later this year as part of a £183m programme.

“We are ramping up our use of this innovative technology because it is working,” said Malthouse.

“It is not only protecting the public from the scourge of alcohol-fuelled crime – it also gives probation officers the chance to work with offenders to help them turn their lives around.”

As a leading provider of alcohol testing services for the legal sector, including SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® (SCRAM CAM®), the same ankle tag used by the Ministry of Justice, AlphaBiolabs has seen first-hand how sobriety tags can provide evidence for legal cases, and support the rehabilitation of individuals struggling with alcohol misuse.

As the government looks at increasing the use of electronic sobriety tags, we’re taking a closer look at how they work, and how they can be used to support a person’s treatment for alcohol dependency.

How can an ankle tag detect alcohol consumption?

An alcohol sobriety tag, also known as an ankle tag or ankle monitor, is a secure electronic bracelet that is worn around the ankle and detects traces of alcohol in sweat.

When a person consumes ethanol (the intoxicating agent in alcoholic drinks), it is broken down by the liver, and its metabolites are released into the bloodstream.

These metabolites are then expelled by the body in different ways, including when the person sweats.

Around one per cent of everything we consume is expelled through our skin in the form of perspiration.

Sobriety tags use transdermal analysis to test a sample of perspiration. A pump inside the bracelet takes the sample, and a fuel cell – like the kind found in a breathalyser – reacts with the ethanol to measure alcohol content in the sample.

Unlike other methods of alcohol testing such as breathalysers, which provide a snapshot measurement, or hair or nail analysis, which provide a historic overview over a period of months, an ankle monitor allows real-time, continuous monitoring of alcohol consumption.

What are the benefits of continuous alcohol monitoring?

There are several instances where an alcohol sobriety tag might be useful either to support a person’s treatment or enhance supervision during legal proceedings.

Examples include:

  • Where an individual is struggling with alcohol addiction issues and wants to monitor their consumption as part of their treatment
  • In family courts, where continuous alcohol monitoring is required as a condition of custody or visitation. An ankle tag, such as SCRAM CAM® offered by AlphaBiolabs, can help enforce a parent’s sobriety, or assess the level of a parent or guardian’s alcohol problem
  • In drug courts, where offenders are at risk of turning to alcohol while being regularly tested for drugs
  • For domestic violence offenders, where alcohol is a contributing factor to offending. Figures show that alcohol plays a part in around 39 per cent of all violent crime in the UK

An ankle tag like SCRAM CAM® allows for continuous monitoring of a user’s alcohol consumption. Because the ankle tag is worn full-time for a set period, it is possible to detect when the wearer has consumed alcohol at a time when they should be abstaining.

Other benefits of choosing a SCRAM CAM® ankle tag include:

  • Results automatically uploaded every 30 minutes, 24/7
  • State-of-the-art monitoring which registers even very low alcohol consumption (e.g. 1-2 units)
  • Legal aid funded
  • Free weekly or monthly court-approved reports
  • Non-invasive testing with no hair or blood samples required
  • Water-resistant and unaffected by dyes, bleaches or gels
  • Tamper-proof technology that can detect obstructions or removal attempts
  • Secure bracelet – easy to fit by AlphaBiolabs trained staff
  • Removes the need for participants to attend testing centres
  • Simple pricing structure with no hidden costs or extras
  • Can be used alongside SMART Mobile™ Portable Alcohol Monitoring as part of ongoing recovery

Where can I order an alcohol monitoring tag?

AlphaBiolabs has extensive experience working with the legal sector, family law professionals and social workers, providing court-approved alcohol testing services for legal purposes, including alcohol monitoring devices.

The SCRAM CAM® bracelet, available from AlphaBiolabs, is ideal for circumstances where real-time, continuous monitoring is required.

It is also legal aid funded, making it even easier to access SCRAM CAM® where monitoring has been court ordered.

For more information or to request a quote, call 0333 600 1300 or email testing@alphabiolabs.com and a member of our legal sales team will be in touch to discuss your needs.

Did you know, SCRAM CAM® is also available for hire by members of the public who would like to monitor their alcohol consumption for personal reasons?

For advice and guidance, simply call our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 now.