Treatment through the criminal
261. One of the Government's innovations has
been the enhancement of treatment options available to drug users
through the criminal justice system, through Drug Treatment and
Testing Orders and Arrest Referral Schemes. Drug Treatment and
Testing Orders are community sentences which require offenderswith
their consentto undergo treatment and other programmes,
designed to tackle their drug misuse and offending, at a specified
place for a period of between six months and three years. Under
the terms of the Order, offenders must also be tested regularly
for illegal drugs, and attend court for periodic reviews of their
progress. Under Arrest Referral Schemes, drugs workers visit police
custody suites to offer advice and services to drug users. In
the main, evidence to the Committee has been positive about the
impact of such initiatives, although the Substance Misuse Faculty
at the Royal College of Psychiatrists told us that they "do
not believe that evidence supports the efficacy of coercive treatments".
262. The Committee has heard representations
that the schemes have, in some places, been set up in such a way
that offenders receive preferential treatment over non-offenders:
"in some districts, the quickest way to access treatment
is to commit a serious crime".
We consider it highly undesirable that it should be easier
for a drug addict to access treatment through the criminal justice
system than in the community. This is a further reason, if any
were needed, for the Government to provide more treatment in the
263. A new sanction being piloted in sentencing
drugs offenders is the Drug Abstinence Order, which requires the
offender to remain abstinent as a condition of his or her sentence.
Mr Roger Howard, Chief Executive of DrugScope, told us that his
organisation had lobbied for conditions of treatment to be attached
to these Orders, without success. Their view was that "the
requirement for someone with a potential drug problem to remain
drug free without adequate access to treatment is irresponsible".
Mr Ainsworth assured the Committee:
"For those for whom it is felt appropriate,
we should be offering drug treatment and testing orders. For people
who have a lower level of dependency, then it may well be that
drug abstinence orders are appropriate...we have no desire or
intent to roll these pilots out and to make them available nationwide
before we have the treatment capacity in order to be able to refer
people on...Drug abstinence orders should not be being used, and
I have heard the allegation, 'setting people up to fail', but
they should be used in circumstances where people should be able
to cope with the commitment that they are being expected to make
without the testing requirement and we should not be pushing them
in there if there is no treatment available".
264. We recommend that Drug Abstinence Orders
are amended to carry the requirement of access to treatment.