In South Dakota, they are tackling alcohol-related anti-social behaviour by a novel approach that they call the 24/7 Sobriety Program: breathalysing offenders twice a day, every day, morning and evening. If they don't turn up, they'll be arrested. If they show any alcohol in their system, they have to wait for 15 minutes when they are tested again. If they fail a second time, they are taken into custody, all their possessions are taken from them and they are put in prison clothing. Then a judge will decide how long to imprison them: 24 hours to a week, depending on the person's history. More details are on the BBC website - click here - with a short video news report.
Why am I reporting this here? Because the scheme has caught the attention of politicians here in Britain, who could be just daft enough to give a try. It might be operable in small, rural American towns, but I can't see how it could transfer to our more heavily populated towns and cities, which are geographically much closer together than American towns. And with cut backs, where will they find the police officers to chase up those who don't turn up? The police can't keep up with those who breach their ASBOs now.
The London mayor is considering applying the scheme to certain drink-related crimes such as drunken violence. Predictably, the BBC website then goes on to quote government stats:
"In July 2010, the UK Home Office reported that the total cost of alcohol-related crime and disorder to the UK taxpayer was estimated to be between £8bn and £13bn per year. And in 2009, almost one million violent crimes were alcohol related, with a fifth of all violent incidents taking place in or around a public house or nightclub."
What is the net cost of alcohol-related problems after alcohol tax and duty are taken into account? And I note that 80% of all violent incidents don't take place in or around a public house or nightclub.
I'd be surprised if any schemes like this see the light of day over here, but you never know!