Trial with alcohol monitor

An alcohol monitor is an ankle bracelet that measures the wearer’s alcohol consumption. People who have committed criminal offences under the influence of alcohol may be asked to take part in the alcohol monitor trial. The aim is to prevent the person from offending again. Police units in Rotterdam and the eastern Netherlands are starting a trial at the beginning of 2017.

Monitor measures blood alcohol content

The alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet measures blood alcohol content by analysing the wearer’s perspiration. The Probation Service receives readings twice a day via a modem at the wearer’s house.

Trial with alcohol monitor as a condition attached to suspended sentences

Someone who has committed one or more criminal offences under the influence of alcohol may be given a suspended sentence with conditions attached. One such condition may be a temporary ban on consuming alcohol. The alcohol monitor can be used in combination with supervised probation to monitor compliance with this ban.

Aim of the trial

The aim of the trial is to determine whether the alcohol monitor is an appropriate sanction and whether it is effective in combination with professional counselling. The research team will assess whether the monitor has an effect on offenders’ alcohol consumption and behaviour. The monitor is being tested on 100 participants who have been given an alcohol ban.

Alcohol monitor trial to last one year

Police units in Rotterdam and the eastern Netherlands (excluding Arnhem and Nijmegen) are launching a one-year trial to test the alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet. Participation is voluntary. If the trial is successful, the government will consider introducing legislation on its use.

Supervising alcohol bans

The police will be using the alcohol monitor in addition to the current breath, blood or urine tests. Offenders wearing alcohol monitors will be supervised by probation officers for compliance with their alcohol ban.

The advantage of the 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.

Reducing alcohol-related crime

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 to suspended sentences can help prevent alcohol-related violence and other offences.

The alcohol monitor has already proven successful in the United States and the United Kingdom: 78% of participants in the US and 92% in the UK completed the programme without consuming alcohol. So the Dutch government wants to investigate whether the alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet can be used in the Netherlands too.

The Ministry of Security and Justice, Verslavingsreclassering GGZ (non-profit community rehabilitation and probation service) and the Public Prosecution Service are all involved in the trial.

Violence under the influence of alcohol

In the Netherlands 25% to 50% of violence is linked to alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking often plays a role in:

  • vandalism;
  • violence in the night-time economy;
  • street violence;
  • football hooliganism; and
  • domestic violence.

Alcohol abuse costs society more than €3 billion a year.