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Crossbench peer calls for expansion of mandatory sobriety programme

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff has called for a scheme that successfully reduced alcohol-related crime and disorder in London to be rolled out across England and Wales. Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Baroness Finlay says that the 95% success rate for a mandatory sobriety programme trialled in South London for 12 months from July 2014, provides evidence that expanding the scheme could significantly reduce alcohol-related crime in other parts of the UK.

Criminal offenders taking part in the South London pilot wore electronic tags that measured alcohol in sweat through 45 readings per day. Of the 111 individuals sentenced to an alcohol abstinence monitoring requirement during the pilot, 92% of offenders complied fully with alcohol abstinence. Only nine people breached, four of whom ultimately completed their sentence (95% success). The scheme, which was based on an initiative designed in South Dakota, has subsequently been extended across London.

Baroness Finlay said: “The Conservative 2015 manifesto committed to make sobriety orders available to all courts. Rolled out across England and Wales, the 95% success rate attained in the pilot – or indeed any rate even close to it – would significantly reduce the appalling suffering from the over 700,000 alcohol-fuelled violent incidents that occur each year.”

She continued: “Individually focused approaches are no substitute for much-needed public health measures such as minimum unit pricing and lowered drink-driving levels. But wide-scale introduction of evidence-based, effective management strategies for alcohol-involved offenders provides one valuable tool to reduce the appalling harms of problem alcohol consumption.”

Notes to editors

Mandatory sobriety programmes for alcohol-involved criminal offenders (DOI: 10.1177/0141076816682366) by Ilora G Finlay and Keith Humphreys will be published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine at 00:05 hrs (UK time) on 7 February 2017.

For further information or a copy of the paper please contact:

Rosalind Dewar
Media Office, Royal Society of Medicine
DL: +44 (0) 1580 764713
M: +44 (0) 7785 182732

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