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Prison Policy

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

Further to my statement on prison policy on 31 January 2008, Official Report, column 37WS, I am pleased to announce that the evaluation of the Dedicated Drug Court pilots has now been completed. Copies of this, the “Dedicated Drug Court Pilots: A Process Report” have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The report is also available online at: www.justice.gov.uk/publications/research010408.htm

The Dedicated Drug Court model establishes a new framework in the magistrates courts in dealing with drug misusing offenders committing low level crime to fund their addiction, aiming to reduce their drug misuse and therefore their associated offending behaviour. The model makes use of specialist panels of magistrates or district judges to provide continuity when sentencing and reviewing offenders’ progress on drug treatment orders to completion or any breach, seeking to improve offenders’ motivation to stay in treatment and so reduce drug use and related offending

Pilots were launched at Leeds and West London Magistrates Courts in December 2005. An independent evaluation of these pilots has now been completed. The process report published today provides positive indications of the impact of continuity of judiciary on several key outcomes, including offenders being less likely to miss a court hearing, less likely to be re-convicted and more likely to complete their community order.

The Dedicated Drug Court model will now be extended to up to four more sites. This will allow the viability of the model to be tested in an increased number of sites and the conclusions of the current evaluation to be strengthened with evidence from an increased number of cases. The new pilot sites will be selected through consultation with the judiciary, court staff and other key partners and the pilots will commence in October 2008.