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Scottish criminals could be given tags to monitor alcohol consumption

Liam Kerr MSP.
Liam Kerr MSP.

Criminals in Scotland could have their alcohol consumption monitored remotely under new proposals.

The move would see offenders wear water-resistant ankle tags which would carry out tests on their sweat every half-an-hour to detect whether alcohol has been consumed.

Similar to current electronic tags used on criminals, the new devices would also send out alerts to authorities if they are removed or tampered with.

It comes after a contract was awarded by the Scottish Government to security firm G4S to run electronic monitoring operations for the next five years.

MSPs last year passed the Management of Offenders Act which allows for the possibility of remotely monitoring for alcohol consumption, as well as other methods of electronic monitoring.

The proposals could allow Scottish courts to make those convicted of offences relating to alcohol wear the tags.

So-called “sobriety tags” have already been used in the US and parts of Europe.

They have regularly been issued to those found guilty of drink-driving, with US actress Lindsay Lohan told to wear one in 2007.

The UK Government is currently considering a move to roll out the scheme across England and Wales.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The Management of Offenders Act widens the availability of electronic monitoring and allows for the introduction of other technologies, including remote monitoring of alcohol consumption and GPS.

“We are discussing with partners how such enhanced monitoring may be used in future when the relevant parts of the Act come into force.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr warned those involved they should not avoid jail if their crime merits a period behind bars.

He said: “There’s definitely a place for measures like this but they cannot be used as an excuse to empty jails as opposed to a targeted intervention.

“Victims of crime will be furious if offenders whose crimes are serious enough to warrant prison are instead given these tags.”

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