A new way of dealing with crimes associated with alcohol is being rolled out today a decade after Andover’s MP first proposed them.

Kit Malthouse first proposed the idea of sobriety tags while he was Deputy Mayor of London. The tags, which monitor the level of alcohol in an individual’s sweat, form part of new community sentences which allow offenders in alcohol-related crimes to be given drinking bans for up to four months instead of a prison sentence.

The MP said the tags would “break the self-destructive cycle that offenders end up in.”

Sobriety tags take a sample of an individual’s sweat every half an hour. If they detect ethanol, the alcohol used in drinks, then they alert the probation service, with the government saying other alcohol-containing products, such as hand sanitiser, will not set off the alarm.

They are intended to reduce the level of reoffending by helping individuals get sober while wearing the tags. Judges will be able to sentence an offender to wear the tag for up to 120 days, alongside support from professionals to help them change their lifestyle.

This is hoped to reduce the number of individuals sent to prison for these offences, and their incidence overall, with 39 per cent of violent crime associated with alcohol. Offenders can still be given a further sentence, which may include prison, if they breach the alcohol abstinence order.

A trial was carried out in London, Humberside, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and Wales, with preliminary data suggesting offenders with the tags were alcohol free on 97 per cent of days they were monitored.

They were introduced in England today, March 31, with Kit Malthouse saying the devices ‘will help makes towns and villages safer’.

He said: “Ten years after I proposed it, I’m pleased to report that we are rolling out ‘sobriety tags’ to tackle alcohol related crime. Sadly, even here in beautiful North West Hampshire, we are not immune from crimes caused by alcohol, be it domestic violence or criminal damage, and this will help make us safer.

“Alcohol costs us £21 billion a year through its socio-economic impact. All too often we see the devastating effects of alcohol-fuelled behaviour, reckless crimes and casual violence which blight our neighbourhoods and the lives of too many victims.

“This new tool can break the self-destructive cycle that offenders end up in. It helps them sober up if they choose to or go to court or be punished if they don’t. Of course, we need to help people change their ways too and that’s why we’re backing up the roll out of sobriety tags with targeted and professional support to help them improve their lifestyle and habits.”