The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and his Deputy Mayor for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse, have announced that London will pilot the first sobriety scheme for persistent alcohol-related offenders in the capital.
The scheme aims to reduce re-offending by ensuring that alcohol does not act as a precursor to criminal activity. Offenders who have committed crimes such as assault and criminal damage may be offered compulsory sobriety as an alternative to custody. This will involve them being routinely monitored with a bracelet which can detect alcohol levels in the blood. See a here for a report on the scheme submitted to the MPA last year.
The scheme is based on a project for drink drivers in South Dakota, where a "fail = jail" message seemed to work. The UK scheme will consider charging the offender a small amount for daily alcohol monitoring. It appears to have wide support from London residents who were surveyed in a telephone poll. The Mayor has said the Government has backed the scheme, although it still requires legislation to be passed.
The pilot was first mooted in 2010 and also drew attention when Malthouse spoke on a BBC radio 4 feature saying London faced a "disproportionate" problem - a claim accepted by a fullfact.org exploration. Then the scheme drew sharp criticism from the Guardian. Now, however, it gets a "cautious welcome" from Alcohol Concern, who state that the pilot should offer sobriety testing as part of a "wider regime" of support rather than punishment.
The National Offender Management Guidance outlines the range of current options for rehabilitating offenders with alcohol-related offending patterns. Alcohol Treatment Requirements (ATRs) are often used as an alternative to a custodial sentences for those with alcohol dependency. See here for full guidance on addressing alcohol-related offending, and recent documents on IBA for offenders.