The specialist courts created to deal with crimes committed by drug addicts have been extended to continue for another three years, before such courts would be started all across the country. The drug courts were set up in Glasgow in 2001 and Fife in 2002. These will undergo further monitoring by the Scottish Executive's.
This decision was announced yesterday as reports indicated that there were no significant difference in re-conviction rates between offenders processed by the drug courts and the probation system.. But it also said that said the courts had been able to achieve and sustain reductions in drug use and criminal behaviour.
The Glasgow court opened in 2001 and was the first in the UK and the second in Europe. Fife followed in 2002. The courts were first developed in the US during the 1980s, with the aim to cut drug related crime among repeat offenders aged 21 or over by giving detailed drug treatment orders rather than custodial sentences. The courts use drug treatment, testing orders and probation orders as alternatives to custody, with the offenders regularly testing for drugs.
The courts processed 334 people during the first three years of operation. Re-conviction rates were 50 per cent within one year of the offence, rising to 73 per cent after two. Hugh Henry, deputy justice minister, said the report was "broadly positive" and showed that the offenders completing orders had lesser convictions in past two years as compared to two years previous. He also added that if they can get people into effective treatment, allowing lifestyles to stabilise, then they can reduce offending behaviour.
The report stated that the new courts had been able to achieve and sustain reductions in drug-use and criminal behaviour. They were the first of their kind in the UK and have cost Ģ6.1 million to operate so far.