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UK fights alcohol-related crime with ankle tags that alert authorities to intoxication

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The tags can tell the difference between drinks and other types of alcohol, such as hand sanitiser or perfume.
The tags can tell the difference between drinks and other types of alcohol, such as hand sanitiser or perfume.   -   Copyright  Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
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Britons who commit alcohol-fuelled crimes could now be ordered to wear a “sobriety tag”.

The electronic device, once strapped onto their ankle, takes a sample of their sweat and alerts the probation service if it detects alcohol.

The scheme launched in Wales last October and is now being rolled out across England. The British government says it has proven highly effective so far, with wearers staying sober – and out of trouble – on over 95 percent of days monitored.

Alcohol is seen as a key driver of domestic violence and physical assault. It plays a part in 39 percent of violent crime, according to government figures, which put the social and economic cost of drink-related harm at around £21.5 billion (more than 25 billion euros) a year.

The justice ministry says the tags can tell the difference between booze and other types of alcohol – such as hand sanitiser or perfume. They work 24/7 and can also tell if someone tries to block contact between the tag and their skin.

The government has made no secret it wants to use electronic tagging to help reduce crime. Earlier this month, it launched GPS tags to track the movements of burglars and thieves freshly released from prison.

Watch Tadhg Enright’s report in the video player above.