Offenders in Wales released from prison face being banned from drinking from today under world-first plans to curb alcohol-fuelled crime.

For the first time, serious and prolific offenders will be tagged with devices which monitor alcohol levels in sweat if their probation officer thinks they will be more likely to reoffend when drinking.

Alcohol is involved in 39 per cent of all violent crime in the UK and roughly 20 per cent of offenders supervised by the Probation Service are classed as having an alcohol problem. Around 12,000 offenders will wear such a tag over the next three years however, offenders with an alcohol ban on community sentences have stayed sober on 97 percent of the days they were tagged.

Welsh probation officer, Amy Ellie, from North Wales said:

"I think the tag is an excellent addition to the tools we have at our disposal to protect the public and support offenders to achieve positive changes to their lives.

"The tag will have a wonderful impact because when we ask offenders for whom we know alcohol is a risk factor what they are drinking they can tell us 'nothing'. We might know that's not true, but we can't guess the scale of the problem.

"The tag forces people to be honest. That honesty opens-up conversations that we wouldn't ordinarily be able to have.

"Now we can see if their consumption is reasonable, or if there's a worrying pattern, and if so, what is contributing to that pattern.

"If drinking is happening on a particular night, why is that? It gives us an insight into an offender's behaviour that we've never previously had.

"We can test for drugs, but we've never been able to test for alcohol in the same way.

"Now we can work with an offender to explore what are the underlying issues which are causing the problem. Yes, a good probation officer can usually develop a rapport and explore those problems with their cases, but the tag gives us absolute certainty."

Offenders will either have a licence condition which requires them to go teetotal for up to a year or have their drinking levels monitored because their risk of reoffending increases after heavy consumption.

In total, an extra £183 million is being invested in the next three years to almost double the number of people tagged at any one time from around 13,500 this year to approximately 25,000 by 2025.