Scotland's Pilot Drug Court: The First Six Months

Gill McIvor, University of Stirling
Margaret Malloch, University of Stirling
Susan Eley, University of Stirling
Rowdy Yates, University of Stirling

Drug Courts aim to reduce drug misuse and associated offending by offering treatment based options outwith the traditional court setting. Following the apparent success of Drug Courts in other jurisdictions and of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders in Scotland, the Scottish parliament agreed to establish a pilot Drug Court in Glasgow. Scotland's (and the UK's) first Drug Court began dealing with cases in November 2001, based within the existing Sheriff Court and operating within existing legislative provision. The Drug Court is targeted primarily on offenders aged over 20 years who have a history of drug misuse and related offending and who are considered to have the motivation to change. Potential cases are identified initially by the police from among those offenders detained in police custody following their arrest.

The key objectives of the new Drug Court are to reduce the level of drug-related offending behaviour; to reduce or eliminate offenders' dependence on or propensity to use drugs; and to examine the viability and usefulness of a Drug Court in Scotland using existing legislation. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Stirling, Scotland has been commissioned to evaluate the Drug Court over a period of two years. This paper will focus on the first six months' operation of the pilot Drug Court, highlighting issues that have promoted or impeded its successful implementation.

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Updated 05/20/2006