‘Authoritarian overreach!’ Malthouse sparks furious backlash with sobriety ankle tag order

Kit Malthouse discusses sobriety ankle tags

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Tory MP and Minister for Policing Kit Malthouse has spoken to LBC following the rollout of sobriety tags in England on Tuesday. The MP said the new booze ankle tags will mean that just “one sip of alcohol” will land drink offenders back in the hands of the police as he argued that “any drink” is too many drinks for someone who had previously committed an offence. His comments surprised host Ben Kentish who questioned the scheme for its hardline crackdown on drinking and listeners were left outraged by the Policing Ministers hard approach.

Mr Kentish asked Mr Malthouse how many drinks “are too many”.

Mr Malthouse said “any drink is too many” before adding “don’t forget these are people who have committed a crime.”

The minister went on to say: “Some of these crimes can be quite serious, I mean if you’ve been sentenced for domestic violence where alcohol has been a driver you would otherwise perhaps be serving time in prison or some kind of community order.”

The minister emphasised that even if an offender has had just one sip of gin and tonic a policeman could turn up at their house and take them to jail.

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But the Policing Minister’s comments sparked fury amongst listeners.

One person said: “‘Sobriety ankle tags’. Authoritarian overreach at its finest, disgraceful.”

Another furious listener said: “Alcohol is legal. This will go far too far” 

And one disappointed person said: “How about sufficient services for those who need help and a well thought through rehabilitation strategy? Offenders will be apprehended by police and then what?”

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Sobriety tags were rolled out across England on Tuesday in a move to stay on top of criminal drinkers.

The tags monitor the wearer’s sweat levels every 30 minutes and alert police services if alcohol is detected.

Under the new scheme, courts can hand out “alcohol abstinence orders” to offenders who commit crimes fuelled by alcohol.

The scheme has been in operation across Wales since October.

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The Government said more than 100 people have been tagged in Wales since then, with offenders staying sober on over 95% of the days they are tracked.

Offenders breaching their abstinence order can then be returned to court to face further penalties.

These orders can force the offender to avoid alcohol for up to four months and wear the tag to make sure they’re following the rules.

The government says the tags can tell the difference between drink types and other types of alcohol products like hand sanitiser and perfume.

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