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UK pilot scheme to help offenders address substance abuse

UK pilot scheme to help offenders address substance abuse

  • August 2018
  • Posted By Ben Craske

The UK plans to launch a pilot scheme to help offenders who have substance abuse, alcohol, and mental health issues to address the underlying factors contributing to their criminality.

Officials will launch the pilot scheme in five areas throughout the country: Sefton, Plymouth, Northampton, Milton Keynes, and Birmingham. Health services and justice agencies will implement a new protocol, directing at-risk offenders to receive treatment to address their mental health and addiction issues, as well as the underlying causes of them breaking the law.

The aim of the scheme is to lower the number of offenders who receive short-term imprisonment sentences, which have been shown to have a small impact on recidivism rates among offenders with drug or alcohol misuse problems.

The scheme will depend on the expert opinions of psychologists, who will be present in court to determine whether offenders are eligible to receive treatment rather than incarceration. Health and justice officials will ensure that magistrates and judges are aware that they have the option to refer defendants to treatment programs rather than imposing a custodial sentence.

Proponents of the scheme hope that the pilot will be effective in rehabilitating offenders, as previous studies show that 38% of offenders assessed had alcohol misuse problems, and 32% had drug misuse problems.

Statistics show that the reoffending rate for adults who receive a custodial sentence of less than a year is almost 65%. A joint report by Public Health Service England and the Ministry of Justice found that offenders treated for alcohol or drug abuse were 33% less likely to re-offend after two years than offenders who did not receive treatment.


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