Parents with alcohol problems involved in care proceedings may be fitted with ankle bracelets that continuously monitor their drinking following a trial that began this week at a London family court.

The SCRAMx continuous alcohol monitoring device tests for alcohol secretions on the skin every 30 minutes, transmitting results to a commercial firm for analysis and reporting. The idea is to allow people whose children are the subject of care proceedings to demonstrate their sobriety.

Dr Claire George, laboratory director at Concateno, the company behind the service, said the device will provide courts with continuous monitoring to determine if a parent is free from alcohol over time.

‘Until now most alcohol-testing focused on recent and past alcohol use, using hair-testing or random point-in-time testing, which could indicate whether a person has consumed alcohol at some point in the last few hours, days or weeks. But it cannot show where a drinking episode began, finished or provide 24/7 monitoring,’ she said.

The SCRAMx, typically worn for 90 days, is in use in 48 US states. The London court pilot is due to last two to three months, and will be evaluated just after Christmas.