Prison Service to give leavers alcohol tags as part of efforts to cut drink-fuelled crime and re-offending rates in England
Offenders being released from prisons in England face alcohol bans and having their drinking electronically monitored from today.
Up to 12,000 offenders are set to be tagged over the next three years, it has been revealed, as part of efforts to cut booze-fuelled crime.
Prison leavers will be ordered to wear a 'sobriety tag' that will monitor and track the alcohol levels in their sweat if their probation officer thinks they might reoffend when drinking.
Alcohol is thought to play a part in 39% of violent crime un the UK, believes the Ministry of Justice, while the Probation Service says around 20% of offenders are identified by their staff as having drinking issues.
A similar scheme in Wales, rolled out last year, showed the majority of offenders given a tag did stick to the alcohol restrictions put in place for them.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab MP said: "We’ve seen that alcohol tags work - with tagged offenders complying 97 percent of the time.
"This is a big step forward using the latest technology to cut the link between alcohol abuse and the crime - and make our streets safer."
Also under the plans to drive down reoffending rates is a decision to no longer release prisoners vulnerable to addiction, mental health issues and homelessness on a Friday.
Figures show that around one in three offenders currently leave prison on a Friday - often giving them just a few short hours to arrange a bed for the night, register with a GP or sign up for job support or other services to help integrate them back into society.
The race against the clock, says the Prison Service, can end with ex-offenders spending their first days on the streets with little way of support increasing the likelihood that they will commit further crimes and so those with a Friday date will now instead be released on a Wednesday or Thursday.
Those offenders coming out of prison on licence with an alcohol tag will be told to wear them for anything from a minimum of 30 days up to a maximum of one year. Reviews, every three months, will also be carried out by probation officers to make sure its use is still necessary and a reasonable and proportionate approach to the risk an individual may pose.
Expanding the use of alcohol tags, for which the technology has been available for around 10 years, will see thousands given them by 2024.
Probation Minister Kit Malthouse said: "When I first brought alcohol tags to the UK over a decade ago, I knew that given the chance, they could have a huge impact on crime.
"The great results we have seen so far, and now the expansion announced this week, mean that the use of tagging technology is firmly embedded as a critical tool for offender managers, proving a huge incentive for offenders to change."