The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., has today published a review by his Department of the Drug Treatment Court which has been operating in Dublin since 2001.
The Minister welcomed the review which provides evidence that the option of the Drug Treatment Court can have encouraging outcomes. Participants who engage with the programme have reduced rates of recidivism and improved health, education and social skills which impact positively on the participants and the community. However, the review also confirms that the DTC, as currently operating, is not dealing with sufficient numbers of participants and programme completion rates are very low.
Minister Ahern said: "Drug treatment courts can make an important contribution as a restorative justice measure but international studies also indicate they need to evolve and develop on an ongoing basis. This review stems from my concern about the very low throughput of participants in the DTC programme, despite the dedicated team attached to the Court and considerable goodwill on the part of all the agencies involved. I am pleased therefore that the report has identified a number of recommendations which should lead to a marked improvement in the programme's throughput and effectiveness."
The review identifies particular issues to be addressed in terms of the management and operation of the DTC which, when implemented, will enable the DTC to fulfil its potential in terms of the numbers participating in the programme and increasing the numbers who successfully complete it. The review recommends that, having implemented the recommendations, the DTC should continue its operations for a further two years with an interim assessment to consider if the improvements are being achieved.
The DTC operates on a multi-agency basis and all the agencies involved have confirmed their continued commitment to support the work of the Court. The Courts Service has agreed that the administration of the project will now be led by the Chief Clerk of the Dublin Circuit and District Courts, supported by a designated Deputy Chief Clerk who will be appointed shortly. The review also recommends the establishment of an Advisory Committee to oversee the project. This will be chaired by the Courts Service and made up of senior staff members of the Garda Síochána, the HSE, the Probation Service and the City of Dublin VEC, and will consider the entry requirements to the programme, expectations of participants and measures of success and how the numbers of participants in the programme can be increased quickly. The Committee will also look at the questions of research into the work and effectiveness of the DTC process and examine how third level institutions might assist the Court in this work.
The review is published on the Department's website www.justice.ie.
24 May 2010