The first trial with an alcohol monitor ankle bracelet in The Netherlands is very successful. The trial of the alcohol monitor is initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security and the three probation services Reclassering Nederland, SVG and Leger des Heils Reclassering. 97,5 percent of the 26 participants didn’t drink during the period of the trial that started in January 2017. The effect that the alcohol monitor had on the participants continued in the months after the bracelet was removed from their ankle. Both clients and probation officers were very positive about the effect of the alcohol monitor. 

Participants claimed that they were more aware of their alcohol consumption and that the bracelet pushed them to quit their alcohol addiction. Some were afraid not be able to stay away from alcohol after the trial period and wanted to wear the ankle bracelet longer than 75 days. This would, for example, give them an excuse not to drink during Christmas. Four participants tried to manipulate the technology of the ankle bracelet. They received a warning and were called in by their probation officer. One of the participants committed a criminal offence during the time of the trial. Three months after the removal of the ankle bracelet, none of the other participants have been in contact with the police.

Probation officers explained that they have better control on the alcohol consumption of their clients and that the alcoholmeter makes it easier to address problems if they occur. According to them, this helps the client in their probation process.

A second trial with 80 participants took place in 2018. This trial will be evaluated later this year.

Aim of the trial

The aim of the trial is to determine whether the alcohol monitor is an appropriate sanction and if it is effective in combination with professional counselling. The research team needs to assess if the monitor has an effect on the offenders’ alcohol consumption and behaviour. The monitor is being tested on participants that are not allowed to drink alcohol during their early release period. Participation is voluntary.

The probation service is using the alcohol monitor in addition to the current breath-, blood- or urinetests. Offenders wearing Alcoholmeters will be supervised by probation officers for compliance with their alcohol ban. Once a day, the probation officers receive readings via a modem that is installed in the clients home. The advantage of the alcohol monitor is that offenders will no longer have to go to the probation service for testing three times a week. Continuous monitoring can also help offenders overcome their alcohol problem. If the trial is successful, the government will consider introducing legislation on its use.

Alcohol abuse often plays a significant role in violent crime. The government is taking targeted measures to reduce the number of violent criminal offences. Attaching special conditions, such as an alcohol ban in case of suspended sentence. This can help to prevent alcohol-related violence and other offences.

The alcohol monitor has already proven successful in the United States and the United Kingdom already. 78% of participants in the US and 92% in the UK completed the programme without consuming alcohol.

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