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Review of the Glasgow and Fife Drug Courts: Report

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Costs of Drug Court Orders

40. The Scottish Government's funding allocations for 2008-09 and 2009-10 financial years to the relevant Community Justice Authorities in respect of the operation of the Drug Courts amounted to

Glasgow

£1,555,083*

Fife

£1,236,118

*An additional sum of £11k was paid in 2007-08 which represented residual costs in respect of the Drug Court co-ordinator post.

In addition, an annual sum of £42,000 was paid to Fife Constabulary for policing the Fife Drug Court.

41. Based on the most recent year for which figures are available i.e. the 2008-09 financial year, the unit cost of a Drug Court Order (including expenditure on assessments) is:

Glasgow Drug Court

£18,295

Fife Drug Court

£21,302

However in 2007-08, the comparable figures were:

Glasgow Drug Court

£23,742

Fife Drug Court

£16,386

In comparison, the average cost of a non-Drug Court DTTO in 2007-08 (the latest year for which data is available) was £12,205.

42. In terms of successfully completed Orders, the following unit cost comparisons can be made for 2008-09:

Glasgow Drug Court

£38,925

Fife Drug Court

£51,956

And the comparable figures for 2007-08 are:

Glasgow Drug Court

£53,959

Fife Drug Court

£45,517

Taking an average of the unit cost of completed Drug Court Orders over the two years, 2007/8 - 2008/09, the costs are as follows:

Glasgow Drug Court

£46,442

Fife Drug Court

£48,737

In comparison, the average cost for a successfully-completed non Drug Court DTTO in 2007-08 (the latest year for which data is available) was £35,897.

Conclusions

43. It is important to remember that the target group for the work of the Drug Court is an extremely challenging group to work with who lead chaotic lives and have a long history of drug misuse and offending. The work of the Drug Court therefore needs to be judged in the light of these challenges. The Drug Court Order is often only the start of a very long process towards rehabilitation and it is unsurprising that a significant number fall by the wayside. Success therefore needs to be judged accordingly.

44. The review involved gathering views of key stakeholders in Glasgow and Fife and updating key statistics relating to the Drug Courts throughput and meetings. The review found that there is overwhelming support for the Drug Courts amongst these stakeholders, with this support being unanimous in Glasgow. In particular, the pre-review is considered a vital element of the Drug Court process with all stakeholders stressing its importance in ensuring the effective running of the court.

45. The throughput of the two courts has changed since the 2006 evaluation, with the throughput in Glasgow remaining broadly constant apart from a dip in 2007, while the business of the Fife Drug Court has fallen gradually, with a 33% decrease in the annual number of Orders made since 2005 and 2008. Separate evidence 1 shows that the estimated prevalence of problem drug misuse among those aged 15-64 in 2006 in Fife and Forth Valley CJA is significantly lower at 1.20% than Glasgow at 3.27%, and second bottom only to Northern CJA at 0.98%. This suggests a reduced level of offender need in Fife in relation to this type of specialist court.

46. The rate of successful completion of Orders has largely remained similar in both courts with just minor changes since the 2006 evaluation. However, there is a clear differential between the average cost of successfully completed Drug Court Orders in Glasgow and Fife in 2007/08 and 2008/09 and the average cost of a successfully completed non-Drug Court DTTO, the latter which was significantly lower.

47. At this stage, evidence on the outcomes of Drug Court Orders is inconclusive. Analysis suggests that the reconviction rates and frequency of reconviction among Drug Court cases was very similar to those among offenders given DTTOs under Summary proceedings, although these figures should be treated with caution as the sample sizes are small.

48. There are efficiencies to be made in both Drug Courts in relation to their operation. In particular, all stakeholders agreed that the assessment process is in need of review to streamline it and make it less resource intensive. There is opportunity to achieve resource savings without having a detrimental impact on the operation of the Drug Courts, for example looking to align funding with throughput and reducing the unit cost per Order so that it is closer to the average cost of non-Drug Court DTTOs.