Prison leavers in Wales wear ‘sobriety tags’ to stop alcohol-fuelled crime
Almost 1,000 offenders leaving prison on probation have been ordered to wear “sobriety tags” in the first year of a scheme which was first launched in Wales, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said.
The electronically monitored tags track levels of alcohol in sweat and had previously been used as part of community sentences.
The programme of fitting prison leavers on probation with these tags was first launched in Wales in November last year, and then rolled out to England in June.
Offenders released from prison may be fitted with these tags for between 30 days and a year, if their probation officer thinks that they are likely to reoffend while drinking.
Those getting tagged will either have to go teetotal or have their drinking levels monitored – and anyone found to have broken the Probation Office’s rules could face being sent back to jail.
A 22-year-old from Cardiff, who has been on a tag as part of her probation since September, said: “I was nervous about being tagged but it does help. It’s a physical reminder for me not to drink.”
She added: “I’m sober and not getting in trouble.”
Prisons and probation minister, Damian Hinds, said: “When more than a third of all violent crime is fuelled by alcohol, these tags provide vital monitoring to help cut reoffending and protect our communities.”
The Government says it is part of a £183 million investment into tagging defendants, which it hopes will almost double the number of defendants on tags to 25,000 by 2025.
The MoJ expects around 12,000 offenders – both those leaving prison and serving community sentences – will be ordered to wear alcohol tags over the next three years.
Judges and magistrates have given almost 6,000 alcohol tagging orders to offenders serving community sentences since October 2020.
Statistics published by the MoJ show offenders fitted with alcohol tags complied with alcohol bans 97% of the time.
Alcohol plays a part in 39% of all violent crime in the UK while around one in five offenders supervised by the Probation Service have an alcohol problem, the MoJ say.
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