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Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, perhaps it might help the Minister if I clarified my question. I said that the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which introduced the concept of drug testing, used the terminology "shall". I wondered why the Government had decided to move from thatperhaps to the 2000 legislation.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I believe that it is because we were drawing our drafting from a different piece of legislation. Because the noble Baroness has raised the question in my mind and in the minds of other noble Lords, we shall go back and check that point and discuss it. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for drawing that out, as there may be some confusion on everyone's part, not least on our own.
Amendment No. 218CE would include the treatment provider in the provision, but that is a misunderstanding of the purpose of the provision, which exists only to limit the role of the responsible officer in situations in which the offender receives residential mental health treatment. The treatment provider provides treatmentfairly obviouslybut does not have the duties of the responsible officer.
I hope that those explanations have satisfied the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness. I hope that having heard my remarksalthough not entirely convincing on the subject of "may" to "shall"the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation and confirmation that voluntary organisations will be able to play a full role in the services. That is very important. I am also grateful for his attempt at explaining Amendment No. 218CC. I am sure that when he has checked the matter, he will come back to me if there is any doubt about the situation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in speaking to the amendment, I shall speak to the rest of the amendments in the group. The amendments fall into a number of categories, but I shall deal first with Amendments Nos. 218CH and 218CK. The amendments are also supported by the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, who is not able to be with us today.
Testing is regarded as a means of reinforcing the authority of a community sentence and to provide a more accurate indicator of offenders' drug use. It acts as a deterrent to continued drug use and as an incentive to become and remain drug free. We strongly feel that testing must be integrated fully with treatment programmes and that testing regimes are tailored for individual offenders.
Amendments Nos. 218CH and 218CK are intended to ensure that the treatment provider, not the probation officer, is responsible for determining the times and circumstances governing testing and treatment, and should be expected to communicate the results to the probation officer. That provision was in Section 62(4) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
Multi-agency working is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the DTTO scheme. DTTOs require professionals to work together in a co-ordinated way. Developing effective inter-agency protocols for the operation of the scheme is essential. The energy invested in that at the developmental stage will pay dividends in the longer term with respect to the operation and management of the orders.
We are concerned that allowing probation officers to determine the times and circumstances of testing will blur the professional parameters between probation officers and drug agencies. We must be clearer about the divisions of labour between the two teams. Requiring probation staff to assume competence in medical decisions is an inefficient use of resources. Probation staff should be responsible for the overall accountability of the DTTO and reporting back to the criminal justice system and treatment providers responsible for providing the treatment. That is what the amendments would achieve.
I now turn to Amendments Nos. 218CL, 218CJ, 218CM and 218N. To take Amendments Nos. 218CJ, 218CM and 218N first, we return to the issue of "may" and "shall". They would strengthen the provision for drug rehabilitation by the use of "shall" rather than "may".
Amendment No. 198CL expresses our concern that the court will have discretion whether to include a mandatory court review for those sentences for fewer than 12 months. The amendment would remove that discretion. We strongly believe that the court hearing should be mandatory and retained for all who receive a community sentence because research has consistently shown that individuals respond well to direct dialogue between magistrate and offenders, with the magistrate
That is especially important for shorter sentences, when every encouragement is needed to ensure that early criminal justice interventions really work, can successfully reduce patterns of offending and can encourage the person to develop a drug-free lifestyle. Put simply, we also want to make sure that the offender does not feel that he is 'getting away with it' by avoiding a court review hearing.
Of course, magistrates are not there simply to expedite orders and to get as many people as possible through the system; magistrates themselves do not believe that. They must be encouraged to take the time to understand the complexity of drug use and the importance of treatment as well as punishment. The court hearing will ensure that magistrates are more committed to making community sentences work and deliver positive outcomes. I think we all agree that that is what we want to achieve. That also ensures that the accountability of the offender through review is clearly understood. That is crucial for all sentences and there should be no distinction between sentences of 12 months or fewer and longer sentences.
There is much to learn from the American experience in which community courts such as Red Hook allow the courtroom to take centre stage and provide a base for criminal justice and social services, so that offenders have quick and easy access to drug treatment, training and mediation services. The lesson of the Red Hook community court is that people must feel connected to a criminal justice system that works not only for the victim but also for the defendant drug user. Both must have confidence that the system is there to make it work. The more people involved in the solution, the greater the success.
Turning to alcohol treatment, Amendment No. 218CP would add a maximum of three years to the minimum of six months provided for in the Bill and Amendment No. 218CQ would insert a new clause. Much of the criticism of the old approach to the DTTOsas, indeed, of treatment in the communitywas that interventions were delivered in a rigid, problem-specific manner and did not recognise that it is wrong to label people as having one problem when they usually have many.
Put simply, it is common for a drug-dependent user to have accompanying mental health needs or a problem with alcohol misuse as well. Until now, poly-drug use or secondary drug use has not been easily addressed in the DTTO system.
Secondly, in non-inner city areas the DTTO focus on class A drugs has not been helpful. In rural areas, people may have a main problem with a class C drug, but the DTTO addresses only their class A use. For example, in the rural North East of the country, crack use is almost non-existent. The combined use of heroin and benzodiazepine is more common, but it is difficult to address benzodiazepine use in the DTTO since heroin use reduction is likely to be the target for success. Even if heroin use is stopped or reduced, the
Turning Point has campaigned for the problems of alcohol to be addressed. Alcohol is very frequently used when users are off opiates. However, although alcohol is legal, it is still an extremely dangerous drug, especially when combined with other drugs such as benzodiazepine. The new proposed single generic community sentence should enable people with less severe misuse and less serious patterns of offending to benefit from treatment. I am quite sure that that is one of the Government's objectives. It will also allow courts to introduce an alcohol treatment requirement and mental health treatment requirement as part of the community sentence for the first time. That is really welcome news, but only if matched by new resources to deliver more alcohol treatment.
A Turning Point report showed that more than half of users said that they had a mental health problem in addition to their alcohol dependency, and yet we know that people's needs often fall between mental health and alcohol services because of disagreements on who should be the lead agency or because both agencies are not involved at the stage when that person is assessed and referred to services. We know that some areas do not take people with mental illness because those clients are assessed as not being able to cope with the available treatment such as group work and cognitive therapy. Clearly, the onus should be on providers to develop suitable programmes. We have great fears that those problems will be compounded within the criminal justice system unless notice is taken of this problem.
Therefore, this amendment places a requirement on the Secretary of State to produce guidance on how the different requirements will relate to one another. That should explain how drug agencies, mental health services and alcohol services should adopt an integrated, shared and caring approach to meeting people's complex needs. It should spell out how services should be co-ordinated across requirements and how to link with the specialist support and advice from the voluntary sector. I beg to move.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, I welcome this group of amendments. It is excellent that the Bill, in Clause 191, at the top of page 113, enshrines the voluntary principle in drug rehabilitation because that will make any treatment on offer far more effective. I also welcome Amendment No. 218CP, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, which would increase the time during which rehabilitation treatment can take effect. That seems to allow for the possibility, which quite often occurs, of relapses and second efforts and
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