Two-year review of Drug Treatment Court


THE DRUG Treatment Court, which has been operating in Dublin since 2001, will continue for another two years during which it will be reviewed to consider if it is meeting targets being set.

This follows the publication of a review of the operation of the court by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern.

The court was introduced on a pilot basis and then expanded. Drug-addicted offenders are identified and referred to it for treatment and rehabilitation in order to reduce recidivism.

The court refers offenders to agencies for assistance with education and health in order to tackle their offending. During this time, charges against them are put on hold.

The review found that of the 200 people referred to the specialised court only 29, or 14 per cent, graduated; 131 left without completing all phases of the programme, 39 are still engaged in it and a further five were in assessment at the time of the review.

The review also found that those who engaged with the programme have reduced rates of recidivism. However, it also found that for the project to be successful, the numbers participating needed to increase.

In relation to increasing the numbers, it found that the small catchment area for the court was a significant factor, with 90 per cent of those deemed unsuitable having addresses from outside the Dublin 1, Dublin 7 and part of Dublin 3 that make up the catchment area.

It also found a lack of co-ordination between the rest of the court system and the Drug Treatment Court.

It noted that the treatment court team had pointed out that, unlike many comparative courts internationally, the Dublin court did not have access to residential treatment facilities and this hindered success rates.

Among the recommendations from the review are: promoting the court by building strong links between with the District Criminal courts; extending its scope to juvenile offenders between 16 and 18; establish an advisory committee and monitor the implementation of the recommendations.

The committee will be chaired by the Courts Service and made up of senior staff members of the Garda, the HSE, the Probation Service and city of Dublin VEC.

It will consider entry requirements to the programme, measures of success and how participants in the programme can be increased quickly.