Ministers want to introduce new laws enabling the courts to impose sobriety orders as part of a suspended or community sentence. These orders would be used for drinkers cautioned for minor offences, but is this the best way to tackle alcohol fuelled criminal behaviour and will it work?
Drinkers cautioned for minor offences such as criminal damage or public order are, under these proposals, to be monitored and breath-tested to ‘ensure they stop drinking.’ Offenders will be regularly breath-tested and may additionally be forced to wear ankle tags that continuously monitor alcohol levels for up to four months. These plans are based on a system trialled in the USA but will they work here? There have been numerous plans aimed at tackling binge-drinking voiced in the past. With alcohol treatment requirements already an option available to the courts as part of a community sentence, what will the threat of alcohol monitoring tags add? Tagging as a means of tackling anti-social behaviour has not solved the problem it was introduced to remedy. I’m therefore sceptical about these new proposals and doubt they will solve the offending problem associated with binge drinking. We will see.