In a speech at last weekend’s G20 summit in Australia, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that if his party is returned to power in the 2015 election, he will expand the use of “sobriety bracelets” to help curb alcohol-related crime. Sources estimate that if the plan moves forward, up to 5,000 individuals a year in the U.K. could receive abstinence orders and be supervised with continuous transdermal alcohol monitoring.
The U.K. has long struggled with problems tied to excessive drinking. Unlike the U.S., where drunk driving is the most prominent alcohol-involved crime, in the U.K. police and citizens alike complain about “boozed-up yobs” who stumble out of pubs to fight, assault passers-by, damage property, and commit other public disorder offenses. Officials calculate that alcohol-related crime costs the country between £8 billion and £13 billion (approximately $12.5 – $20 billion U.S.) each year.
Cameron’s announcement was triggered in part by the early success of the City of London’s Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement (AAMR) pilot scheme, launched in August. The first of its kind in the U.K., the AAMR pilot allows courts to require sobriety and SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring for individuals accused of alcohol-involved offenses. It is being overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Police and Crime, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, and Public Health England. A few dozen individuals have enrolled in the pilot and a total of 150 participants are expected by the time it concludes next summer.