In a response to the ever-increasing levels of drug related offending, the Scottish Executive made the decision to explore the effectiveness of Drug Courts. Fife was chosen as one of two pilot sites in Scotland. Fife was considered a non-urban area that geographically reflected the vast majority of Scotland. Fife had also been involved in the initial Drug Treatment and Testing Order, which indicated promising results.
Fife Drug Courtwas established at Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline Sheriff Courts in September 2002. The key aim of the Drug Court is to reduce the level of drug related offending. This could be achieved by introducing drug treatment based supervision orders as a direct alternative to custody. These supervision and treatment orders would uniquely also contain an additional requirement that the offenders would be regularly drug tested to Forensic standards. The aim of these orders would be to reduce or eliminate offenders’ dependence on drugs or propensity to misuse drugs to the detriment of the community, by engaging them in intensive, invasive and robustly enforced court orders.
Fife Drug Courtis a multi-agency collaboration which involves the Courts, the Procurator Fiscal’ office, Fife Constabulary, NHS Fife, and the Councils Criminal Justice Services.
The Drug Court operates between Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline Sheriff Court. Offenders on orders must appear before the Drug Court Sheriff on a monthly basis at a Drug Court Review Hearing. Their progress is reported to the Court along with all drug test results. Again, uniquely, prior to the public hearing, a pre-review meeting is held in private. This allows the Sheriff an opportunity to discuss progress with all treatment and supervision providers. This also allows the Sheriff fast track notification of any further offending that can be responded to immediately. Drug Court Sheriffs can impose interim sanctions such as short custodial sentences and Community Service for non-compliance that would not affect on going Drug Treatment. Ultimately however, serious failures to comply can result in substantial prison sentences.
The Drug Court Supervision and Treatment Team which is a multi-agency Fife wide team supervises and provided treatment for all offenders on Orders. Treatment includes behaviour change groupwork; counselling; substitute prescribing targeted at reducing drug offending. Individuals selected for inclusion in the Drug Court are convicted offenders who’s offending is deemed prolific or likely to escalate without treatment interventions. Most have been in prison before which has had limited impact on their offending behaviour.
Fife Drug Court Pilot has now been extended to Spring 2012.
For more information contactCriminal Justice Services
Tel: 01334 659356 Fax: 01334 659316 Contact Criminal Justice Services online