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Drugs: Misuse

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of (a) prisons, (b) community rehabilitation orders and (c) drug treatment and testing orders in stopping drug taking by offenders. (196929)

There is evidence to support the effectiveness of certain treatments in reducing substance misuse. Treatments which are effective in addressing substance misuse include pharmacotherapies (e.g. methadone); psychological treatments; residential rehabilitation; 12-step treatment; and therapeutic communities1.

(a) Success of prisons in stopping the drug taking of offenders

The evaluations to date of drug treatment programmes in prisons in the UK suggest that these programmes can reduce re-offending2.

The best available measure of drug prevalence in prisons is the random mandatory drug testing (rMDT) programme, which routinely tests prisoners chosen at random for panel of drugs. The positive rate for rMDT has dropped from down from 24.4 per cent. in 1996-97 to 8.8 per cent. in 2006-073.

NOMS has in place a comprehensive drug treatment framework, based on the National Treatment Agency's revised models of care, to address the different needs of drug-misusers in prison. The interventions available are designed to meet the needs of low, moderate and severe drug misusers irrespective of age, gender or ethnicity.

(b) Success of community rehabilitation orders in stopping the drug taking of offenders

For offences committed on or after 4 April 2005, the Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced the community order which replaced all previous community sentences, including community rehabilitation orders (CROs) and drug treatment and testing orders (DTTOs), for adult offenders. Under the Act, the court may impose a community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement. It is too early to have an effective assessment.

(c) Success of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTOs) in stopping the drug taking of offenders

Research4 concluded that DTTOs can reduce spending on drugs and re-offending, although it was not possible to determine to what extent these changes were due to the DTTO or whether other factors also contributed.

1 Gossop, M. (2006). ‘Treating drug misuse problems: evidence of effectiveness’. London. NTA

2 Ramsay, M. (ed) (2003). ‘Prisoners' Drug Use and Treatment: Seven Research Studies’. Home Office Research Study 267. London: Home Office.

Martin, C. and Player, E. (2000). ‘Drug Treatment in Prison: An Evaluation of the PAR Treatment Programme’. Winchester: Waterside Press.

3 Drugs Strategy Team, NOMS Interventions and Substance-Abuse Unit

4 Hough, M., Clancy, A., McSweeney, T. and Turnbull, P.< (2003). The impact of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders on Offending: two year reconviction results. Home Office Research Findings 184. London: Home Office.

Turnbill, P., McSweeney, T., Webster, R., Edmunds., M and Hough, M (2000) Drug treatment and testing orders: Final Evaluation Report. Home Office Research Study 212. London: Home Office