The mayor of London supported by his deputy Kit Malthouse have decided to spend £400,000 on the trial of a US style project to stop those with alcohol related issues from drinking it, with the threat of going to prison ‘instantly’ if they do drink alcohol.
So to remove alcohol from the picture, as suggested by Mr Malthouse, 300 people will be taking part in the trial of the scheme at a cost of about £13,333 per person. I would suggest that is a significant investment for a ‘solution’ that is only likely to work when the tag is fitted and being monitored.
But what will happen when the tag is removed?
They are likely to return to the old pattern of drinking alcohol and possibly committing further acts of violence, because fitting a tag changes nothing, it only monitors the level of alcohol in the person’s body, nothing more.
This is an attempt to try to change the behaviour of violent individuals by threatening them with prison if they do not stop using what is assumed to be causing that violent behaviour and in this case it is being assumed that alcohol is the cause.
But the rage and violence are likely to be symptoms of something far more serious such as undiagnosed mental difficulties, post traumatic stress disorder or unresolved issues, possibly involving violence against them in the past. People don’t usually just become suddenly violent when drinking alcohol there will be underlying reasons for it and finding them may not be easy.
Putting more people in prison will not resolve their problems with alcohol. If they do not understand why they are doing what they are doing they will have no idea how to change, and will most probably continue drinking and commit further acts of violence.
£400K would provide a lot of help and education to a great deal more than 300 people, and would probably also help to prevent a number of newly created victims as a result. But it probably wouldn’t be so popular with some of the voting public, who just can’t resist the headlines promoting some ‘threat, punish and control measures’, attempting to change people’s behaviour by force and fear of consequence.
But why stop with monitoring alcohol? Why not get the whole population to wear tags to monitor the presence of illegal drugs in the bloodstream? Arrests could be instant and fines taking from our debit cards automatically.
But that’s just being ridiculous isn’t it?
Let’s hope so.