UK Ministry of Justice introduces sobriety ankle tags for serious alcohol offenders

This week the Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom announced new legislation beginning 19 May 2020 under which offenders who commit alcohol-fuelled crime now may be banned from drinking and made to wear ‘sobriety tags’:

Alcohol misuse can affect all regions of society and is found to be a contributing factor to various crimes including serious assaults, drink driving, and criminal damage. According to Public Health England, alcohol-related crime costs the UK economy more than £21.5bn a year and the Ministry of Justice have taken an innovative step to directly address the issue. The new requirement is called the Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement (AAMR) and can be imposed by courts in accordance with community-based orders.

The AAMR is a period of mandated sobriety and may be imposed on individuals who commit alcohol-related crimes. The period of sobriety will be monitored by a SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® (SCRAM CAM®) alcohol tag. Referred to as a “sobriety tag”, SCRAM CAM tags rely on transdermal (“through the skin”) science to test for the presence of alcohol found in perspiration after a drinking event. SCRAM Systems® are the creators of the technology, which allow subjects to be monitored for the consumption of alcohol around the clock.

Mike Iiams, CEO of SCRAM Systems said, “We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting partnership with the Ministry of Justice. Knowing that our technology will now be used to help make a positive difference in England and Wales as well is very rewarding for us as a company.”

SCRAM Systems has been assisting the police, probation services and prisons to implement alcohol monitoring programmes in various locations around the world since 2003. During that time, they have successfully monitored over 750,000 individuals, accounting for almost 79 million days of alcohol abstinence. This has a direct and significant impact on offences committed.

The AAMR has already been delivered in conjunction with a CAM tag under two large UK Pilots. These saw more than 1,400 offenders made subject to the AAMR and produced compliance rates of 94%.

“We are delighted that this effective and popular sentencing option will now be available to courts across England and Wales,” said Amit Sethi, Head of European Operations at SCRAM Systems. “We believe that it will have a positive impact on perpetrators of alcohol related crimes and prove extremely valuable to those conducting the challenging job of managing criminal caseloads.”

The Ministry of Justice will start a national roll out of the Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement from Winter 2020. Certain exceptions will apply to people who have become alcohol dependent or have certain other medical conditions. 

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