Addiction NI secured the tender for Northern Ireland’s first ‘Substance Misuse Court’ in Jan 2018.
What is a Substance Misuse Court?
Substance Misuse Courts are specialised as they only work with individuals whose offending behaviour is driven by drug and/or alcohol misuse. The Substance Misuse Court Programme focuses on interventions which target factors that lead individuals to crime. The progress of the participants is reviewed and monitored by the Court to ensure they are engaging with the Programme. The pilot of the Substance Misuse Court commenced at Belfast Magistrates’ Court in April 2018.
What can an individual expect whilst being a part of the Substance Misuse Court?
- Individual therapeutic intervention for substance misuse
- Opportunities to address issues underlying offending behaviour
- Access to social support
- Random Drug/Alcohol testing
- Regular reviews scheduled in Court with District Judge to evaluate progress.
Who is eligible for the Substance Misuse Court?
Following referral by a District Judge (Magistrates’ Court), assessment for the Substance Misuse Court is based upon the following criteria:
An individual who is
- Aged 18 or over
- Has pleaded guilty or been convicted of an offence linked to substance misuse
- Willing to co-operate with supervision, stop offending, avail of appropriate substance misuse treatment, and fully participate on the programme
- Willing to consent to the sharing of personal information between participating agencies/bodies
- Does not have chronic alcohol and/or drug problem that requires medical intervention
- Does not have a co-existing serious mental illness, which would impact on their ability to participate in the programme.
Some offences will affect whether an individual can be included on the Substance Misuse Court Programme - this can be discussed further with the Substance Misuse Court Team on an individual basis.
This tender was secured from the DOJ under their ‘Problem Solving Justice’ theme. This pilot model will be tested throughout the 2018/19 year with the potential for other jurisdictions to adopt similar approaches. Addiction NI developed a blended social support/treatment model to address the increase support and complexities of the client group. Addiction NI look forward to the evaluation and outcomes of the service in 2018/19.