Emily Carver: Meanwhile, in Scotland, the SNP bungles schools, ferries, drugs, rail – and now minimum alcohol pricie

8 Jun

Emily Carver is Head of Media at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

While Westminster reels from the result of the Prime Minister’s vote of confidence, the SNP continues to add to its litany of shambolic policy failures north of the border.

Whether it’s the £150 million debacle over the Scottish census; the scrapping of the party’s flagship pledge to close the education attainment gap between rich and poor by 2026; the endless accusations of corruption and sleaze; the ferry fiasco and the chaos of the Scotrail nationalisation; the horrific drug death toll that shows no signs of easing; chilling legislation on hate crimes; and the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which would make legal gender a matter of ‘self-identification’, the SNP has got the big things so terribly, terribly wrong.

One flagship policy the First Minister used to be oh so keen to shout about is minimum unit pricing – in her words, one of the “major achievements” of devolution, and an area in which Scotland has shown “leadership”. The World Health Organisation praised Scotland for its “promising” policy. Yesterday, however, Public Health Scotland published its final report evaluating its impact, and it made for sober reading.

The SNP first attempted to implement this nanny state policy in 2012. After several years of legal challenges, and a landmark legal victory in 2017, Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce this form of price controls.

At the time, the First Minister said she was “absolutely delighted” that minimum pricing was upheld by the Supreme Court; she noted that while “no doubt the policy will continue to have its critics…it is a bold and necessary move to improve public health”.

In 2019, it was looking good for Sturgeon, when it was reported that ‘Scottish alcohol sales at lowest level in 25 years after price controls’. Little was made of the fact that these figures were totally disingenuous – namely because they referred to 2018, when the policy had only been in forced for eight months. Of course, Nicola didn’t let this get in the way of a good headline, tweeting “this is an encouraging first indicator of the impact of minimum unit pricing”.

Subsequent evidence has not been so “encouraging”. In 2021, a report by the National Institute for Health Research for Public Health Scotland revealed a disturbing 17 per cent increase in alcohol deaths in 2020 on the previous year. There was also no evidence of reduced alcohol consumption.

Now, this week, Public Health Scotland has released its final report into the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland on those drinking at harmful levels.

If minimum unit pricing was having its desired effect, you’d expect to see a drop in alcohol-related harms. Instead, you see no such thing. The official evaluation has found no evidence that harmful drinks have reduced their alcohol consumption or experienced any health benefits. Instead, many of them have switched from cider to spirits – vodka, in particular – and there are reports of increased levels of intoxication and violence from family members.

Even more damning, heavy drinkers have not turned away from the bottle as the public health lobby and the SNP suggested they would. Instead, they’ve chosen to cut down on essentials, including food and utilities, and borrow more money, than cut down on the booze. As the authors note, ‘reducing alcohol consumption was a last resort’

With inflation rising, it is highly likely that this policy will push vulnerable groups into further financial strain. Of course, for some, including the Liberal Democrats (liberal in name only), this is simply a reason to raise the rate from 50 to 65p as Willie Rennie MP told the First Minister last year – a policy the First Minister is yet to rule out.

As Alex Salmond accurately said, the First Minister likes to use independence as “political shield” to deflect voters’ attention from her government’s failures. So far, Sturgeon has chosen to remain silent on the bombshell evaluation of one of her flagship policies, but the catastrophic inadequacies of her administration are plain to see.

The post Emily Carver: Meanwhile, in Scotland, the SNP bungles schools, ferries, drugs, rail – and now minimum alcohol pricie first appeared on Conservative Home.

Toby Williams: In 2022, we must overhaul the way we treat alcoholism

22 Dec

Toby Williams was the Conservative candidate for Mitcham and Morden at the last General Election and stood for the London Assembly as a city-wide candidate earlier this year. He volunteers for the National Association for Children of Alcoholics.

For many of us, an invaluable and irreplaceable component of Christmastime is drinking alcohol. It certainly is for me; in fact, this very piece comes off the back of an extremely enjoyable Christmas pint at my local village pub (the Bell in Feering, Essex – in case anyone is interested in paying this exceptional place a visit).

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Christmas is a time of relaxation and merriment at the end of a long, hard year – and alcohol can be a great catalyst for bringing people together and maximising Christmas cheer.

But for those people who are sadly addicts, Christmas can be the most dangerous time of year, with the sheer availability and abundance of alcohol only ratcheting up the dependency that consumes them. The loneliness and poor mental health that so often accompany alcoholism can intensify too, as in the mind of the addict these problems contrast strongly with the warm, happy togetherness of the festive season.

Needless to say, this vicious cycle too often leads to one place: the bottle.

Christmas 2021 comes after two particularly tragic years for alcoholics. A perverse by-product of the coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in alcohol abuse, with deaths from alcohol-specific causes rocketing from 7,565 in 2019 to 8,874 in 2020 – a staggering increase of nearly 20 percent.

This is hardly surprising; as pubs closed, people resorted to drinking cheaper and stronger alcohol at home. Off-licence sales of beer jumped by 31 percent and spirits by 26 percent during that year alone.

Far too often, the fact that alcoholism affects not just the addict themselves but also the people around them is tragically overlooked. Growing up as a child of an alcoholic, I know all too well that the extent of a parent’s drink problem has a directly proportionate impact on the wellbeing of the child. The worse my Mum’s drinking got, the more acute my shame, embarrassment and insecurity would become.

Considering this, it is no surprise that children of alcoholics are twice as likely to suffer educational disadvantage, three times more likely to consider suicide and four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves.

So this Christmas, it’s especially important to remember the catastrophic impact that alcoholism has on the individual, those around them and wider society. As we look forward to 2022, we must consider the ways we can stem the tide of alcohol abuse that has engulfed this country particularly over the past two years.

To paraphrase a former Prime Minister, we need to get tough on alcoholism and tough on the causes of alcoholism.

We must move away from any notion that alcoholism is solely – or even mostly – a physical problem. Of course, the terrible physical effects of excessive drinking, from high blood pressure to liver cancer, mustn’t be played down; but these are almost always symptoms of deep-seated mental health problems.

This means that the way the NHS treats severe alcoholism needs to stretch further than an insufficient combination of the treatment of physical illnesses and gentle advice around cutting down. Alcoholism needs to be met with a far more robust mental health response to really target the source of the problem.

Alongside the far more effective integration of physical and mental health treatment, it is vital for our social care sector to play a more active role in combatting the scourge of alcoholism. Over the past two and a half years, my Mum has been in and out of hospital four times as a result of drinking herself into an oblivion. The sheer level of self-neglect was not just at stratospheric levels, but also blindingly obvious for anyone to see.

Yet it wasn’t until her fourth hospitalisation that social services became involved in earnest and decided that they needed to intervene.

This belated, lacklustre and disjointed approach (which, I hasten to add, is not the fault of the brilliant social and care workers across the country) is terrible for the health and wellbeing of the addict and places an avoidable and immense strain on the NHS. Had social services been involved from the off, I have no doubt that my Mum could have avoided multiple hospital visits. Instead, she was lucky to survive.

Alongside strengthening the way we treat the symptoms of alcoholism, we also need to tackle the root causes far more effectively. While there simply isn’t the space here to analyse the myriad of causes behind addiction, I want to highlight what is so often the prevailing factor: loneliness.

Loneliness and heavy drinking all too often go hand-in-hand, creating a vicious cycle of spiralling alcohol consumption and isolation. Organisations such as the Jo Cox Foundation and the APPG on Loneliness have done some fabulous work around raising awareness of this issue and highlighting the importance of shaping huge swathes of government policy around the need to tackle the problem.

From closing the digital divide to loneliness-proofing public transport and housing, 2022 needs to be the year that we focus relentlessly on developing the intelligent policies that tackle high levels of social seclusion. This is of course particularly important in the aftermath of the successive lockdowns, which while necessary have by their very nature increased levels of loneliness.

Next year, we all hope, will be the year we recover from the extraordinarily difficult Covid years. It is vital that this recovery programme includes tangible and robust measures to slow the rate of addiction growth and enhance the ways in which we treat alcoholism.

Doing so wouldn’t just transform the lives of people who have fallen prey to alcohol abuse and those close to them; it would strengthen our brilliant health service and bring about the type of far-reaching social reform that any Conservative would be proud of.

Ryan Bourne: Why Sunak should think twice about a central bank digital currency

17 Nov

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Nobody has provided a satisfactory answer yet as to “why do we actually need this?” but Western central banks seem intent on creating their own “central bank digital currencies” (CBDCs).

The proliferation of cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, Facebook’s Diem project and China’s “digital yuan” has apparently left policymakers fearful of missing the boat on the next stage of currency evolution. HM Treasury and the Bank of England, for example, have been scoping out the case for what’s been dubbed “Britcoin” since April.

Last week, one of the many dangers of such a project became clear: the possibility of its use for rampant paternalism. Tom Mutton, Director of the Bank of England, explained that the British government must decide whether any British CBDC should be “programmable.”

That innocent-sounding function – reflecting whether or not the money can be set up to be released only for certain purposes or after conditions are fulfilled – could have profound consequences, if the contours are set by politicians.

Even casting aside the privacy dangers associated with central bank electronic currency, “programmability” could allow governments to preclude certain uses of this new form of money. Sandra Ro, Chief Executive of the Global Blockchain Business Council, has said the technology might allow governments to restrict what state benefits can be spent on, for example.

Given the current zeitgeist, one could imagine future constraints on whether electronic money could be used to buy carbon-intensive products or other things deemed legal but “socially harmful,” such as gambling products or alcohol. The possibilities for the nannies of all the parties would be endless.

Let’s back up for a second, though, to remember what this digital currency idea is about and why it matters. Central banks currently have a monopoly over the provision of physical banknotes (i.e. paper cash). They also provide digital money in the form of central bank reserves or settlement balances held by banks and some other financial institutions. But private banks are the major source of digital money more broadly in the form of bank deposits.

A CBDC would, in essence, make a new form of electronic money issued by the central bank available to all households and businesses, denominated in pounds, at a time when the use of cash is declining sharply. As economist Ethan Ilzetski has explained, it “can be seen simultaneously as a way to replace cash with a digital alternative” while also allowing the public to hold a form of government money electronically outside of private banks.

Details differ as to how any given CBDC would work in practice. A lot of proposals globally would see the central bank itself provide retail account services to all who want them. The Bank of England has instead talked of a core “ledger” to provide a simple payments infrastructure, facilitating what it hopes will be a private, competitive market in “payment interface providers” who are regulated and connect to that system.

Whether that core ledger is delivered through blockchain-style technology is yet to be determined. The major potential upside from a pro-market perspective is that, conceivably, it could allow other institutions to offer accounts to people on a level playing field with banks.

Yet a CBDC as a new form of government-issued electronic money is not without severe dangers and trade-offs. Perhaps most radically, it would allow major changes to the operation of monetary policy. Under this system, the central bank could directly deposit digital currency into accounts through payment interface providers, instituting helicopter money to the public. It could also charge negative nominal interest rates on holdings – in effect, taking money from those who choose to forego spending this form of money.

The other purported “benefits” of CBDCs are that they would help improve financial inclusion and generate innovation in payments provision. But a lot of payment service innovations, such as Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Alipay, WeChat Pay, PayTM, M‑Pesa, Transferwise, and stablecoins are already operational and reducing the costs of digital payments without CBDCs.

Meanwhile, a large proportion of those “unbanked” or financially “excluded” from digital payments are so because of a lack of ID or due to a desire for privacy. These issues would not be alleviated by CBDCs. Indeed, why would we expect more innovation to result from a government-regulated digital currency system than in a private, competitive currency market?

What CBDCs would certainly do is heighten privacy concerns and risk the regulators controlling more closely how money is spent or invested. Those most keen for CBDCs tend to want to abolish cash, in part to eliminate (often victimless) illicit activity. Rishi Sunak and the Bank have rushed to insist that any Britcoin would exist alongside banknotes and bank deposits. But it’s noticeable that those most keen on CBDCs tend to want to phase out cash entirely.

One fear with any government electronic money is that people opting to use direct central bank retail accounts, or services that create accounts there, could diminish ordinary deposits in commercial banks. That would mean less money available for banks to make small business loans, with the central bank left making more decisions about who can borrow.

In theory, the central bank might avoid this disintermediation problem by simply auctioning its funds, so “passing through” the money back to commercial banks to lend according to normal criteria. But would that be free from conditions? The likeliest outcome is surely that central banks and politicians would determine that passed-through funds must or must not be used to achieve certain social, environmental, or even racial objectives. In other words, another form of government control over investment.

And that, I think, is an underappreciated danger of the CBDC idea. It would give the central bank and the politicians that set its mandate the tools to much more easily manipulate economic activity. Not just in terms of crowding out innovative private currency provision, payment systems, or the intermediation role of banks. No, as last week’s debate made clear, any programmability built into the new form of money could open the door to more control over how we spend our own resources too.

There’s a tendency in politics to observe new innovation in markets and presume that, if it’s important enough, government institutions must get in on the act. But the Treasury should think carefully about what a CBDC actually delivers that ongoing private sector innovation cannot.  And Tory MPs that care about economic and social liberties should be very wary of granting a free pass to the creation of new tools that could lead both to more government direction of investment and tighter paternalistic controls on private spending.

Miles Beale: The UK wine industry can be a post-Brexit success story for Global Britain

26 Feb

With over a decade campaigning for fairer alcohol taxation, Miles Beale is CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association – and spokesman for Wine Drinkers UK. This is a sponsored post by Wine Drinkers UK.

Stop somebody in the street (social distancing guidelines permitting) and ask them to name one of the UK’s top exports, and they might say cars, the British music industry or pharmaceuticals.

You may have to wait a while until you find somebody who says wine, despite the fact that total UK wine exports were worth almost £650 million a year prior to Covid-19.

Combine this fact with the knowledge that Britain is the second-largest importer of wine by both volume (after Germany) and value (after USA) , and you begin to understand the UK’s place at the centre of the international wine industry.

Wine trading with the EU has become more bureaucratic and costly since 1 January, but with the UK now fully outside the EU, the Government has an opportunity – some might say an obligation – to roll back protectionism inherited from EU membership. The Government’s appetite for swift action will determine the future success of the sector and could unlock the opportunities for growth that exist around the world, making the Government’s vision of ‘Global Britain’ a reality.

Today, the UK is already a global centre of wine trading (including in fine wines), wine knowledge (hosting the biggest global provider of wine education), and home to one of the most diverse and democratised wine markets. It’s little wonder that wine is the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink and provides 130,000 jobs.

And there’s a huge opportunity for future growth. As the Department for International Trade acknowledged in marking English Wine Week in 2019, by 2040 the industry is predicted to be producing 40 million bottles a year, equating to a retail value of £1 billion. Exports of English wine could reach £350 million over the same time frame.

The Trade and Co-operation Agreement reached on Christmas Eve – including the annex on wine trading – was welcome. It ensured wine tariffs were not introduced and new red tape delayed until 1 July. However, with more than 50 per cent of wines on the UK market coming from the EU, the new arrangements for wine trading are more complex and becoming increasingly expensive. If left unaddressed the initial hit to the UK’s thriving, SME-packed wine industry, its global hub status, and its domestic market will never be recouped.

So what is the solution? In short, it lies in harnessing the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy – including striking deals with wine producing nations such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States – to maintain and enhance our global wine status. These free trade deals provide a golden opportunity to remove wine tariffs and, in parallel, to scrap protectionist EU non-tariff barriers such as the costly VI-1 certification requirement.

Arguably, given the relative weight of NTBs and their disproportionate and adverse impact on SMEs, a wine certification requirement should be dropped immediately – they are protectionist and serve no purpose.

Alongside bi-lateral trade agreements and in addition to the UK’s excellent decision to re-join the global wine standards body (the OIV), the UK should also act to boost its role in the global wine trade by signing-up to the World Wine Trade Group. The group already includes some of the world’s largest wine producers, such as Argentina, Australia, Chile, and the United States and provides the best route to achieving mutual recognition of wine making practices – which would support the global wine trading and in turn the UK’s ambitions.

And where some of these actions may take time, it doesn’t mean the Government can’t take supportive action domestically in the meantime. An ideal first step is using the forthcoming Budget to deliver a cut in wine duty for the first time since Nigel Lawson (whose picture hangs on the wall of Rishi Sunak’s Treasury office) was Chancellor in 1984.

With British drinkers paying fully 68 per cent of all wine duties collected across the EU27 and the UK prior to the pandemic, wine the most popular alcoholic drink in the UK, and wine sales essential to the recovery of the hospitality industry, cutting wine duty would be a ‘win-win-win’ for businesses and consumers – and also the taxpayer, with cuts and freezes proven to increase revenue to the Exchequer. As the UK looks to recover from Covid-19, a duty cut would offer a welcome down-payment on securing the UK’s global wine hub status and potential, not least through helping our wine exports bounce back after having more than halved during the pandemic.

The opportunity for future growth in the British wine sector is there for the taking. With swift action on tax and trade, the Government can first secure and then build on the UK’s global hub status that the industry currently enjoys. But it’s a time-limited opportunity to realise Global Britain’s ambitions in our sector. It’s now up to the Government to seize it.

Toby Williams: Lockdown has presented huge challenges for the children of alcoholics. Here’s how we can help.

21 Oct

Toby Williams was the Conservative candidate for Mitcham and Morden at the last General Election. He is standing for the London Assembly next year as a city-wide candidate. 

As difficult, painful and tragic as the Coronavirus pandemic has been, it has also brought out the very best in human nature. It has been extraordinary to see people go to great lengths to help loved ones and absolute strangers alike, with communities pulling together, individuals volunteering their precious time to help others and our heroic key workers putting themselves in harms way to keep the country going.

In many ways, we are coming out of the pandemic as even more of a compassionate, big-hearted, and socially conscious country. This puts us in the right position to deal with some of the pressing social problems facing our country – especially those which have been made more acute by the lockdown.

In particular, I hope that we, as a society, are able to turn some of our attention to the plight of the children of alcoholics (COA).

I have been a COA for the vast majority of my life and, despite now living 150 miles away from home, Coronavirus has made an already difficult situation even more challenging. But I shudder to think of fellow COAs who have had to go through the experience of lockdown while still living with their addicted parent. I have no doubt that my experience pales into insignificance compared to theirs.

So many of these children (and most of them will be children) will have been caught up in a perfect storm. As I have seen from the last few months, lockdown has tragically created the circumstances which has allowed alcoholism to thrive. For so many of us, the pandemic has created more space in our lives, and alcoholics tend to fill any vacant space with more alcohol.

Whilst alcohol consumption may have increased, a child’s ability to take some respite from their parent will have all but disappeared, with schools closed and friends out of reach. This will have resulted in a far more intense experience of being a COA, leading to a crippling lack of security at best and abuse at worst.

It’s no surprise whatsoever that the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) – a brilliant charity which runs a helpline for COAs – reported a doubling of calls in the first two weeks of lockdown alone. The COAs who contacted Nacoa were distressed by the lack of routine and alarmed by the intensity of lockdown. COAs described lockdown as “unbearable” and “unmanageable” due to a combination of parents drinking increasing amounts and the usual escape mechanisms simply not being available.

My concern is that all of this represents a shift rather than a spike. Alcoholism is all too often a one-way street, with alcoholics unable to shift into reverse gear and un-do the damage. That is why now is precisely the right time to look at what more we can do protect and support COAs.

This isn’t just important to mitigate the pain caused in the short term, it’s also key to preventing serious problems in the long term. Figures from 2017 show that, compared to other children, COAs are twice as likely to experience difficulties at school, three times more likely to consider suicide, five times more likely to develop eating disorders and four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves. By dealing with the difficulties faced by COAs, we can boost social justice, improve our education system, and help to prevent health problems which would otherwise cost the NHS millions.

As Conservatives, we can be immensely proud of our record in government when it comes to COAs. It was, after all, a Conservative government which, in 2018, launched the UK’s first ever strategy to help children affected by parental alcohol misuse, which included £6 million worth of funding to help children with alcoholic parents get support and advice. Importantly, half a million pounds was invested in Nacoa’s helpline – a genuine lifeline and often last resort for so many COAs.

But it’s time to build on this fantastic work, with a key focus on three areas as a “starter for 10”:

1) Boosting awareness for children

Something which is overlooked is that children so often do not understand what alcohol is, let alone alcoholism; my eight-year-old self certainly didn’t. This creates an obvious dilemma: how can COAs ask for help with a problem that they don’t understand or even know exists? It’s time for a review of how the issue of parental alcoholism is approached in schools, and whether this could be done more effectively.

2) Boosting awareness for adults who work with children

It remains the case that the way in which the state deals with alcoholics is very focussed on the alcoholics themselves. For example, doctors rightly focus on getting an alcoholic help, but too little attention is paid to the needs to any children involved.

Teachers are encouraged to spot the signs of all kinds of child abuse, but there is a lack of awareness of the support available to COAs. It would be enormously beneficial to provide new guidance and training to these professionals to enable them to have COAs in the forefront of their minds and know where to turn to get these children support.

3) Getting the funding right

Spending is only part of the answer to big social problems like addiction, but now is a sensible time to review what the Government is spending on helping COAs. As touched on above, in 2018 £6 million was invested in supporting COAs, but this money is set to run out next year.

As we deal with the myriad of challenges inevitably caused by a pandemic, it is essential that the often silent voices of COAs are not allowed to simply fade into the background. With thousands of COAs having just gone through an incredibly difficult period, now is the right time to build on the proud Conservative track record of delivering the support that they need and deserve.

In doing so, we will help to ease the pain of the present and avoid the problems of the future. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

Marc Jones: ‘Sobriety’ tags on offenders who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol can makes us safer

21 Sep

Marc Jones is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire

Alcohol fuelled crime has always been and remains a significant concern across the United Kingdom.

Creative thinking and a determination to find new solutions by Conservative Ministers and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) has provided a genuine opportunity for change which must be grasped.

This year the Government is rolling out a programme to allow courts to impose ‘sobriety’ tags on offenders who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol. These tags are a true innovative game changer in supporting real behavioural change that can help make our communities safer than ever before.

From May this year, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts can require offenders to wear the tags by executing an Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement (AAMR) as part of a community or suspended sentence.

These tags perform around-the-clock monitoring of an offender’s sweat to determine whether alcohol has been consumed and if the presence of alcohol is detected in the system, probation services are alerted, and the individual is sent back to court.

No-one should be in any doubt that innovation is needed in the approach to this problem which is a blight on communities across the UK.

Crime fuelled by alcohol is estimated to cost £11 billion per year in England and Wales, with 40 per cent of all violent incidents are committed by those believed to be under the influence of alcohol rising even higher in a domestic setting.

In 2018, a staggering 8,700 people were killed or injured in crashes involving at least one drink driver on our roads. How many innocent lives were torn apart?

Excessive alcohol is not just an issue for the criminal justice system. Public Health England (PHE) estimated that in 2018/19 there were 358,000 estimated admissions where the main reason for admission to hospital was attributable to alcohol.

The overall social and economic cost of alcohol-related harm is calculated by PHE as £21.5bn per year and with the total budget for the NHS standing at £130bn next year the scale of the problem is obvious.

While we recognise solutions are required are sobriety tags a solution? Well, on their own they cannot provide a panacea, I can testify that they do work – and have made significant improvements to the lives and wellbeing of my constituents in Lincolnshire.

I was one of three PCCs to run the first tagging scheme outside London to trial the technology and the support system that works alongside it and the results have been astonishing.

A review of the project carried out for my office found that of the 226 individuals issued with an AAMR order a staggering 94 per cent successfully completed the order and 97.4% of all the days monitored were free of alcohol.

One offender claimed the wearing of a tag gave him three months sobriety in which his life has changed forever as it gave him the space he needed to seek help for his issues.

Much praise for this initiative should go to Kit Malthouse, the Minister of State for Crime and Policing.

During a lecture in Oxford University, Malthouse first heard of an experiment in South Dakota which was utilising such tags to tackle drink driving.

Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London and de facto PCC at the time, quickly identified the ingenuity of such a system and a decade later we are now seeing his determination to bring this initiative forward pay dividends.

Now it is the turn of Police and Crime Commissioners to see this project through. Since 2012 PCC’s have a unique remit to protect and improve the communities they serve.

Unlike Chief Constables, a PCC has the responsibility to look beyond the operational necessities of fighting crime on a daily basis and to work with agencies and partners to explore and commission new ways to safeguard residents through crime prevention and rehabilitation in the long term.

This project offers that opportunity.

If I haven’t convinced you of the worth of this system then listen to the words of one offender who wore a sobriety tag during the pilot project in Lincolnshire:

“Since I had the tag removed I feel 100% in control of my drinking. I was worried to begin with that when I had the tag taken off I might go back to drinking again but the process gave me a better understanding of alcohol. I also didn’t want to go back to court.

“I no longer need a drink to manage my emotions which is down to the tag and my probation officer – I’m much happier with my life now and pleased that more people can benefit from my experience of wearing the tags.”

As Malthouse so eloquently says:

“This policy represents a revolution in our approach to alcohol crime, and part of the solution to a stubborn and ugly domestic abuse problem”.

“More importantly, it’s simple, corrective and it works.”

I could not agree more.