Sobriety bracelets scheme to be extended in Northants

Sobriety bracelets are being used to tackle alcohol-related offending in Northants
Sobriety bracelets are being used to tackle alcohol-related offending in Northants

A trial using sobriety bracelets to help tackle alcohol-related offending is to be extended for another six months.

Northamptonshire Police launched the six-month trial in May and it has been extended to run until next April.

Sobriety bracelets are tags fitted round the ankle and work 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.

The aim of the trial was to understand how the force could use the alcohol-monitoring technology as part of a conditional caution - one of a number of measures being introduced by Northamptonshire Police to tackle alcohol-related violence.

In practice, this means a person who accepts a formal police caution can agree, as a condition, to stay sober and wear a tag for an agreed period of time.

The six-month trial has now been completed.

Nine bracelets have been fitted over this period to a diverse range of participants, including high-risk offenders and repeat offenders.

Because the terms of the pilot have been widened, a decision has been made to roll out the trial for a further six months, with plans to use the technology in other settings such as anti-social behaviour offences.

Sobriety bracelets will also now be used as an alternative to fixed penalty notices.

The results of the past six months are being evaluated in partnership between the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice at The University of Northampton and Northamptonshire Police.

The initial findings are very positive with some participants viewing the wearing of a sobriety bracelet as a form of help rather than as a punishment.

Participants appear to have changed their relationship with drink, acknowledged their problems with alcohol, and taken positive steps towards addressing them.

One participant said: “Through wearing the bracelet, I now understand the consequences of acting aggressively when I drink alcohol.”

Chief Inspector Dave Spencer, who is leading the trial on behalf of the force, said: “We now look forward to seeing how the use of sobriety bracelets evolves over the next six months, so we have an evidence-based understanding of the process, application, use and limitations of the technology.

“This learning will assist us in presenting an application to the Ministry of Justice to become a formal pilot for Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirements which will permit Magistrates and Judges to sentence people to wear the tags as part of their sentence.

“This technology is still in its infancy, and the pilot is expected to show the potential of sobriety bracelets in modern policing to the rest of the UK.”

Police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds, who is supporting the six-month extension of the initial pilot, said: “The benefit of this type of project is that, through the strategic links we have formed with national partners and central government, we are able to envisage and explore new ways of undertaking policing in the county.

“I see the ability to think outside the box and explore the use of this technology as a contributor to the strategic aims I have set the force and the need for them to have the right tools to do the job.”

Chief Constable Adrian Lee said: “Use of the bracelets has enabled operational officers to have another tool in reducing crime and disorder in the county.

“Using the technology with a wide range of offending groups has been generated by the officers managing the trial on a day-to-day basis, who see the potential for this type of technology in the work they do.”