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Ankle tag monitoring for binge drinkers in London

Posted on Jul 31 2014 | IANS

London, July 31 : London mayor Boris Johnson Thursday launched the first scheme in Britain that will enforce alcohol abstinence among offenders who binge drink through compulsory use of ankle tags.

Aiming to reduce alcohol related re-offending, ease the pressure on police and the justice system and make streets and town centres safer, the mandatory 24-hour tag will be piloted in the South London Local Justice Area, covering Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton for one year, Xinhua reported.

About 100 to 150 offenders will be sentenced by the courts to an "alcohol abstinence monitoring requirement" where they will be banned from drinking any alcohol for up to 120 days and tested constantly using the new ankle tag.

Alcohol-related crime is estimated to cost the country between eight and 13 billion pounds (USD 22 billion) every year and places a heavy burden on public services. According to Public Health England, alcohol-related crime is significantly higher in London than all other English regions.

"Alcohol-fuelled criminal behaviour is a real scourge on our high streets, I pledged to tackle this booze culture by making the case to government for new powers to allow mandatory alcohol testing an additional enforcement option for the courts," the mayor said.

"This is an approach that has seen impressive results in the United States, steering binge drinkers away from repeated criminal behaviour. I am pleased we can now launch a pilot scheme in London," he added.

"We want people to enjoy London's vibrant night-time economy. However, the misuse of alcohol can result in disorder and anti-social behaviour that causes misery for others and we welcome any initiatives that tackle repeat offending," said Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchford.

The launch follows a 2012 manifesto pledge by the mayor and has won support from the government to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder.

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