The study, published this week in the British Journal of Criminology, suggests that, although treatment is effective in reducing offending by drug users, it can be equally effective for people who enter treatment as an alternative to imprisonment, leading to reductions of almost three quarters in the average frequency of offending.
The researchers (Alex Stevens and Neil Hunt from the European Institute of Social Services, University of Kent, and Tim McSweeney and Paul Turnbull from the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, King’s College London) studied a group of drug dependent offenders who went through Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTOs) in services across London and Kent, and compared them to a group of dependent drug users who entered treatment ‘voluntarily’ at the same treatment centres.
Alex Stevens explained: ‘Our research has shown that people on DTTOs were as likely to reduce their offending and drug use as people who entered treatment ‘voluntarily’. On average, those sentenced to a DTTO reported a 71% reduction in the frequency of offending between the time of arrest and 18 months after they started treatment. The sharpest fall in offending occurred in the first six months of treatment. There were similar reductions in the frequency of drug use and in the money they spent on drugs.’
Tim McSweeney added: ‘We also discovered that offenders on DTTOs were as motivated to change as people who ‘volunteered’ for treatment. However, there were ongoing problems in the delivery of the DTTO programmes, particularly in co-ordinating the work of the courts, the probation service and treatment agencies, which limited their effectiveness. Even with these problems, it seems that the treatment provided to drug dependent offenders was effective in reducing their offending and drug use.’
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