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London to test alcohol monitors for offenders

LONDON - London will be the first city in England to test electronic monitoring to force persistent alcohol offenders to stop drinking, Mayor Boris Johnson said yesterday.

Johnson said the program would use electronic bracelets to detect alcohol in perspiration of people convicted of serious alcohol-related offenses. The trial program is expected to start later this year.

One police force in Scotland has previously expressed interest in the device.

The mayor’s office says alcohol is a factor in a million violent crimes in Britain annually. The London Ambulance Service responded to nearly 52,000 incidents last year involving alcohol.

Electronic devices that continuously monitor alcohol are used in several US states. Offenders who break their no-drinking order can be sent to jail.

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In South Dakota, 77 percent of offenders who chose the option of wearing the monitor stayed off alcohol, according to a report in the Argus Leader in December.

“The success of South Dakota proves that removing alcohol really reduces violent crime,’’ said Kit Malthouse, London’s deputy mayor for policing.

“Although criminals may protest, this may be the short, sharp shock they need,’’ he added. “Offenders will have to ask themselves if a drink is really worth a night in jail?’’