POLICE Scotland has backed the use of US-style sobriety bracelets which set off alarms if alcohol is detected in the sweat of those who wear them.
It follows pressure from senior officers for the monitors, which have been in the news after being used on
Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan in her numerous battles with drink, to be introduced.
The force said courts should be allowed to impose the bracelets on those serving a community sentence for a drink-related offence.
However, this puts the police at odds with the Scottish Association of Social Workers (SASW), which believes such a scheme should be voluntary.
Formally responding to a Scottish Government consultation on reform of electronic monitoring, Police Scotland said: "It is reasonable to consider the use of evolving technology such as a remote
alcohol monitoring service to reduce the reliance on alcohol by individuals who have
committed offences and are likely to offend again as a consequence of alcohol consumption.
"However, while there may be value in extending such a scheme on a voluntary basis, without the ability to place some form of compulsory requirement for monitoring on those most susceptible to re-offending it could potentially fail to support the opportunity to bring sustainable positive change to their behaviour."
Champions in law enforcement include the police's
Violence Reduction Unit. Its director, Karyn McCluskey,
last night said she believed the technology, combined with
support from social workers and others, could change
behaviour. She added: "Offenders can use it a tool to justify abstinence to their peers."
SASW agrees, but says the tags should be voluntary. In its submission, SASW said "imposition could be counter-productive and create additional breach offences".
It added: "With the exception of the Alcoholics Anonymous approach, total and permanent abstention is not a model operated by any of the alcohol services in the
Scottish sector, so it might not be compatible with a rehabilitation model unless it was for measuring frequency and amount rather than 'presence' alone of alcohol."
Police Scotland also stated that using GPS technology, like that used in sat-navs, would be a "valuable tool" for monitoring offenders in the community, shedding light on the "unsighted" parts of their lives, such as daily movements and places frequented.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The consultation has closed. Responses are being analysed independently and this analysis is due to be published in the spring. We will respond formally later this year."