Home > Guidelines on 'quasi-compulsory' treatment.

Donovan, Anne Marie and Connolly, Johnny (2009) Guidelines on 'quasi-compulsory' treatment. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 30, Summer 2009, p. 22.

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 Quasi-compulsory treatment (QCT) refers to any form of drug treatment that is ordered, motivated or supervised by the criminal justice system.  The Council of Europe's Pompidou Group (Criminal Justice Platform) commissioned a survey to ascertain what existing guidelines were employed by various jurisdictions when making QCT orders or recommendations for adult drug-dependent offenders.1 Of the 35 Council of Europe states requested to participate, 22 countries (including Ireland) provided responses.

Three-quarters (16) of the responding countries had national legislation in place to govern the implementation of QCT measures (Ireland was not one of these countries). Of these 16 countries, five had adhered to all or most of 13 established best practice principles and only one adhered to no such guidelines. Best practice principles related to eligibility, compliance monitoring, client rights, funding, programme objectives and treatment philosophy.  Specific national guidelines for QCT, aimed at informing both health and criminal justice professionals, existed in 11 countries (not including Ireland). These national guidelines related to different stages of the criminal justice process, including arrest, court (pre-sentence), prosecution, imprisonment and post release. Eight of these jurisdictions had developed guidelines to evaluate the use of QCT.
On the whole, the results of the survey were deemed encouraging but the variety of approaches among member states suggested the need to develop a transnational set of guidelines on QCT practices. It was also concluded that there was scope for legislation in the six responding countries (including Ireland) where legislation was absent. Of these countries, several had prison systems operating at or above capacity.
The primary form of QCT available in Ireland is that offered by the Irish Drug Treatment Court (DTC). The DTC, established as a permanent court in 2006 after a five-year pilot phase,  deals with offenders who have either pleaded guilty or been convicted of minor crimes committed as a consequence of drug abuse. Addressing a European conference on QCT and other alternatives to imprisonment in October 2007, Judge Bridget Reilly of the DTC said: 'Despite the low graduation numbers, the progress and improvement in quality of life for the participants is seen to be very significant by the DTC team, considering the background of low literacy skills, low educational participation, and often difficult social and family history.'2 The DTC was due to be expanded to other areas under the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008, which is currently under review.  
 1. McSweeney T (2008) Guidelines on the 'quasi-compulsory' treatment of adult drug dependent offenders: results from a survey of Council of Europe member states. London: Kings College. Available at www.coe.int/t/dg3/pompidou/Activities/CriminalJusticeMore/QCT%20survey_en.pdf
2. Connolly J (ed.) (2007) The Irish drug treatment court - a view from the bench. Drugnet Ireland, (24): 22.


Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 30, Summer 2009
Page Range
p. 22
Health Research Board
Issue 30, Summer 2009
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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