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Review of the Glasgow and Fife Drug Courts: Report

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Background

2. Drug Courts aim to reduce drug misuse and associated offending by offering treatment based options outwith the traditional court setting. The specific objectives of the pilot Drug Courts were to:-

  • reduce the level of drug related offending behaviour;
  • reduce or eliminate offenders' dependence on or propensity to use drugs; and
  • examine the viability and usefulness of a Drug Court in Scotland using existing legislation and to demonstrate where legislative and practical improvements might be important.

3. Both pilot Drug Courts were evaluated following the first six months of operation. These evaluations were largely aimed at assessing the operational aspects of the courts and found:-

'In Glasgow the main strengths of the Drug Court were perceived to be the 'fast-tracking' of offenders, the existence of a trained and dedicated multidisciplinary team in regular contact with each other and the system of pre-court review meetings and reviews. Factors that were perceived to enhance the effectiveness of the Drug Court in Fife included the monitoring of behaviour and drug use, the regular reviewing of offenders by a dedicated bench, and the nature and intensity of the treatments and services provided' (Establishing Drug Courts in Scotland: Early Experiences of the Pilot Drug Courts in Glasgow & Fife - McIvor et al SG Research Findings 71/2003)

4. A further evaluation of the 'Operation & Effectiveness of the Scottish Drug Courts Pilots' (McIvor et al) was published in 2006. This evaluation was a more in-depth look at the operation of the Courts including tracking offenders and looking at the costs associated with Drug Court Orders. The evaluation concluded that 'there is evidence that a sizeable proportion of clients made subject to Drug Court Orders were able to achieve and sustain reductions in drug use and associated offending behaviour'.

5. At the time of the publication of the 2006 evaluation the then Scottish Ministers announced that the Drug Courts in Glasgow and Fife would continue for a further 3 years. A commitment to review the impact and effectiveness of Drug Courts by Spring 2009 was made in the Scottish Government Drugs Strategy published in May 2008.