The judge leading London’s pioneering Family Drug and Alcohol Court has voiced concern that lack of money will stop families in care cases getting adequate support to turn their lives around.
Judge Nicholas Crichton (pictured) spoke to the Gazette following the end of a three-month pilot during which parents with alcohol problems were fitted with ankle bracelets to monitor their drinking continuously.
The SCRAMx device was fitted to ‘a number of’ parents involved in care proceedings where alcohol was an issue, to monitor sobriety by detecting alcohol secretions on the skin every 30 minutes.
Crichton said it is ‘early days’ but the device had proved useful. No parents had objected to wearing it and there had been no instances of tampering. ‘It means local authorities can begin to have confidence in allowing parents to have contact with their children and allowing children to go home with parents wearing the bracelet,’ he said.
No decision has been made on the future use of the device, but Crichton said support should be given to measures that help parents with alcohol issues turn around their lives so that they are able to keep their children.
Crichton said he was concerned that in the current economic climate, some might argue the state cannot afford to help make people better parents. But he insisted that such action was a ‘no brainer’.
‘If you can enable a mother to hold on to this child, the risk that she will go on having one child a year in the hope that she’ll be able to keep one will reduce, cutting the financial burden on the state overall,’ he said.