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UK Prisoner Alcohol Monitoring Tags A Waste Of Time Say Rehab Group

Over 70% of UK prisoners say that they had been drinking when they committed the offence for which they were incarcerated, according to The UK Alcohol and Crime Commission Report.

Overcrowding in prisons, perceived light sentences for offenders and the role alcohol plays in criminal behaviour have all came to light recently and non more so than the suggestion that released prisoners should wear “alcohol tags”.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]”The government and the think thanks are missing the whole point. The point in rehabilitation is to cater for the needs of the prisoner so they won’t need or want to reoffend”[/su_pullquote]And the news that prisoners in Scotland in the UK may be forced to wear these monitoring devices that remotely screen if they have consumed alcohol, is part of a new proposal to help curb alcohol-related crime.

The potential new system will see offenders wear tags strapped to their ankles, like those worn by people under house arrest or on probation. Designed to detect if the wearer has consumed alcohol or not.

The tags examine a person’s perspiration every thirty minutes, looking for traces of alcohol in their sweat. They are waterproof and can be worn in the bath or shower. However, if a criminal has any ideas about taking the tag off, or tampering with them, the authorities will be notified at once.

The Scottish government has given the private security company G4S the task of overseeing electronic monitoring operations until 2025. This comes in the wake of MSP’s voting to pass the Management of Offenders Act in 2019. The new law permitting various forms of electronic monitoring, and remotely checking if someone has consumed booze. The government maintains the legislation was introduced to broaden the scope of electronic monitoring. This is as well as bringing in other innovations such as GPS, while monitoring alcohol consumption remotely.

More Drug Deaths Than Any Where In Europe – Even Higher Than US

This could result in people in Scotland convicted of crimes linked to alcohol abuse wearing the device, often referred to as “sobriety tags”. And, it’s not just alcohol that’s the problem; according to a recent report Scotland has the highest drug deaths in the Europe – now even higher than the US. Many of these drug victims no doubt had criminal pasts – perhaps a drug monitor is needed too?

With 58% of adult offenders who are discharged from prison serving a short sentence (less than 12 months in custody) reoffending within 12 months. perhaps the tags are part of a solution, if not THE solution.

The tags have been utilised in some European countries, while many convicted of a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in the United States have been forced to wear one. The British government is currently mulling over implementing the system in England and Wales.

However, almost inevitably, the proposal has not been without controversy. Many are concerned it may see offenders avoiding prison, where they may be forced to wear tags when they would have previously gone to jail.

Campaigners Say Proper Rehabilitation Needed

Free addiction treatment service Which Rehab says: “Of course tags and any other form of reducing reoffending is a good idea from a statistical point of view. But it won’t work. The government and the think tanks are missing the whole point. The point in rehabilitation is to cater for the needs of the prisoner so they won’t need or want to reoffend and can integrate into society and be a productive member of it – they need education, skills, psychology, transitional courses, motivation, and of course alcohol and drug rehabilitation.”

There is no doubt looking for a solution to alcohol-related crimes, and what to do with offenders, can be a contentious issue. But many may question if fitting a criminal with a tag monitoring their alcohol consumption is the answer. We believe the answer is rehabilitation in its truest form, not just criminal reform but rehabilitation from alcohol and drugs – surely that’s the answer to cut crime and prison numbers if 70% of convicts are in prison due to alcohol?

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