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Glasgow drug court holds first "graduation" for clean offender

31 January 2017

The first "graduation ceremony" to mark the successful completion by an offender of a drug treatment and testing order has been held in the specialised drug court at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

The court has been operating for more than 15 years, offering an alternative to imprisonment through which offenders with a serious drug problem accept an order, lasting for up to three years, under which they agree to treatments, to testing to ensure the treatments are being followed, and to regular attendance at court for reviews.

However despite the Glasgow court having been given best marks on a review of similar systems in different jurisdictions, it was noted that it did not have any form of recognition for successful completion of an order, as happens elsewhere. Those involved with the court agreed that it would be a good idea, and the first ceremony was carried out late last year.

Sheriff Lindsay Wood, one of the sheriffs working in the court, has described this background, and the ceremony, in a blog on the Scottish Sentencing Council website. He writes that the offender concerned was "a 25 year old who defied the odds after a difficult start and is now no longer taking heroin; no longer stealing; is at college, and involved in mentoring others. He has a meaningful future, his family have him back and he has them".

On the ceremony he continues: "The court was packed with others on orders, their friends, solicitors, drug court workers, police officers and court staff. The case called and I commended the young man on the turnaround in his life brought about by effort and consistently good results. I praised both his excellent attitude and his humility. Unprompted, he thanked the court for the opportunity he had been given and paid tribute to all who had supported him. I then stepped down from the bench and he left the dock. We met in the middle of the court. We shook hands and I handed over a certificate of completion. This was met with spontaneous applause. I returned to the bench feeling something worthwhile had been achieved."

Graduations will now happen on a regular basis for those who satisfactorily complete a drug treatment and testing order.

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