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Drug courts given three more years

31 March 2006

The specialist drugs courts set up in Glasgow and Fife are to continue, despite a report finding that there has been no significant difference in reconviction rates between offenders processed by the drug courts and the probation system.

The courts - the first of their kind in the UK - will undergo a further three years of monitoring by the Scottish Executive. The report also said the new courts had achieved reductions in drug use and criminal behaviour.

Set up in Glasgow in 2001 and Fife in 2002, the courts aim to reduce drug-related crime among repeat offenders aged 21 and over by tackling their addiction. Rather than custodial sentences, offenders are given drug treatment and testing orders. The drug court also has pre-review hearings, interim sanctions, and can impose other orders such as enhanced probation and structured deferred sentences.

The report prepared by Stirling University said that 334 people had been processed by the courts during their first three years of operation and reconviction rates were 50% within one year and 73% after two years.

These figures do not differ greatly to those offenders processed through the probation system, according to the report. However it also found that the courts had been able to achieve reductions in both drug use and criminal behaviour.

Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry called the report "broadly positive" and added that those working within the courts supported them.

He said the Executive had decided to continue with the courts because the report showed that offenders completing orders had fewer convictions in the two years afterwards, compared with the two years before.