From today, Monday May 12, Northamptonshire Police is piloting alcohol-detection tags, also known as sobriety bracelets, as an alternative to sending people to prison.
The force is the first in the country to use the tags as a criminal justice intervention.
A person who accepts a formal police caution can agree, as a condition, to stay sober and wear the tag for a period of time, up to a maximum of 120 days.
A tag is fitted round the ankle and works by automatically sampling a person’s perspiration every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, to test for alcohol consumption. The information detected is then transmitted to a base station, and the data downloaded and checked.
Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The tags mean that we can monitor alcohol consumption 24/7 and then hold people to account for drinking when they shouldn’t. In the USA they have been used extensively with drink-drivers with high levels of success and they have also been used effectively in Glasgow with violent offenders.
“The tags will be voluntary, and if an offender is offered one but refuses it, he or she will then face other sanction within the current criminal justice process.
“They are primarily aimed at the binge drinker. Events like Dry January indicate there can be a behaviour change after a month’s abstinence, while evidence from the USA suggests real behaviour change can result after three months.
“This is one example of how we are taking a pioneering approach to tackling alcohol-related violence, balancing the need for public safety whilst providing accountability and alternatives other than jail to those creating problems due to alcohol misuse.”