Monitors can sniff out drinking on home detention

By Leigh van der Stoep

The Government may be considering monitors that can tell if someone on home detention has been drinking alcohol.

Transdermal alcohol detection is widely used in the US.

It uses the remote monitoring system in electronic bracelets but can detect alcohol secreted in sweat. If alcohol is detected an alert is remotely sent to the monitoring company or an alarm is sounded, much like if the device has been tampered with or the offender has moved outside the confines of the designated property.

Researcher and anti drink-drive campaigner Gerald Waters says he has been in talks with the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Transport about the devices and they are "absolutely massively interested".

The company contracted to administer the electronic monitoring of offenders on home detention in this country has introduced transdermal alcohol detection in its overseas units, he says.

"I'm actually writing a report on it for use on offenders in the community. When I go out and talk to drink-drivers I tell them about it and they are terrified."

He says at the moment offenders on home detention are able to breach conditions such as not to drink alcohol because checks are inconsistent and random.

Waters began researching the subject of alcohol-related offending after his friend Katherine Kennedy was killed by recidivist drink-driver Warren Jenkins near Kerikeri in March last year.

- Herald on Sunday

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