Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 43 - Drug Treatment Court [16387/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 43 - Drug Treatment Court [16387/16]. (16 Jun 2016)

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43. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the status of her review of the Drug Treatment Court model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16387/16]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):  As the Deputy will be aware, we have had a dedicated Drug Treatment Court operating in Ireland for some time now that is is aimed at people with drug addiction problems who come before the District Court on minor criminal charges linked to their drug addiction. It is a problem solving court and makes an important contribution, not least as an alternative to prison. The Drug Treatment Court operates on the basis that a criminal matter has not proceeded to formal conviction and the presiding Judge reviews matters at each adjournment, frequently over an extended period of time, to assess progress, before the matter before the Court is eventually finalised. Once on the programme, participants receive a lot of help and support from the team that supports the Drug Treatment Court including an education coordinator, a liaison nurse among others in dealing with the challenge of tackling their addiction.

The review of the Drug Treatment Court was completed in January 2013 by the Support and Advisory Committee for the Drug Treatment Court, which comprised representatives of each of the agencies involved with the Court, and the Report on the Review of the Operation of the Drug Treatment Court was submitted to the then Minister. The desire of all agencies was to increase the number of participants in the programme and so the catchment area served by the Drug Treatment Court was significantly expanded in July 2013 to encompass the whole of County Dublin and the programme has also found a way to facilitate participants from outside of Dublin, with participants from Portlaoise and Cork being admitted in 2015. The Deputy may wish to note that the Report of the Penal Policy Review Group included a recommendation in relation to a Community Court and the implementation of the Group's recommendations, including a community justice intervention which developed from the community court recommendation, is being progressed in the Department and is being closely monitored by an oversight group led from outside the Department. There will also be a focus on the Drug Treatment Court as part of the Programme for Government's commitment to commencing implementation of a new National Drugs Strategy within the next 12 months.

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