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Kit Malthouse: Dealing with some misconceptions about compulsory sobriety

Malthouse KitKit Malthouse is a Member of the London Assembly representing the West Central constituency, and the Deputy Mayor of London for Policing.

I am glad to see Baroness Jenkin’s excellent piece on Compulsory Sobriety last week attracted so much interest.  The idea of Compulsory Sobriety – a sentencing tool allowing courts to order violent drunks to sober up – has gained momentum, and the Government will now introduce its own amendments to the Legal Aid Bill allowing Boris Johnson and me to pilot our scheme.

I want to clear up a few misunderstandings that I have seen in posted comments:

  • The scheme is not a soft alternative to proper punishment.  If a person has committed a serious enough offence he should serve a prison term. The Sobriety tool is an extra rehabilitative step. It is something a judge can add to the end of a stiff sentence, or give in lieu of a sentence for less serious offences.
  • It is not meant to add to bureaucracy, it is meant to cut through the wasteful exercise of prison sentences that don’t work and repeat re-offenders who get violent whenever they are drunk.
  • It is not a cure for alcoholism, and it is not even for people who drink too much. It’s a crime initiative. People may enjoy their drinks if they remain pleasant about it. When a person becomes violent, it becomes a matter for the courts.

If you remain unconvinced, I suggest raising the idea with any friends who are police officers, NHS professionals, judges or magistrates. They are all tired of dealing with the same violent offenders time and again, and overwhelmingly support this new discretionary tool.


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