Drunks could be forced on to sobriety plan

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POLICE in St Helens have become one of the first forces in the country to be given new powers to help them tackle booze-related crime.

A 12-month “sobriety pilot” was launched yesterday - making the town one of just five places in the country to be handed extra powers by the Home Office.

Under the scheme, police will be able to test the effectiveness of a new out-of-court conditional caution to tackle low-level crimes such drunk and disorderly, criminal damage and public disorder.

The cautions can only be dished out when alcohol has played a part in the committal of a minor offence - which the offender has accepted responsibility for.

Orders could last up to four weeks and include conditions for offenders not to reoffend and to have their alcohol intake tested regularly at St Helens Police Station.

Failure to comply will lead to a formal prosecution for the original offence.

Simultaneous sobriety pilots have also been launched in Westminster, Hull, Plymouth and Cardiff.

Chief Inspector Louise Harrison said: “I hope the issuing of a conditional caution with sobriety conditions will act as a wake up call to offenders and encourage them to change their long-term behaviour and relationship with alcohol.”