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Drug testing as part of a review of a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement

MA position statement

10 June 2019
Drug testing as part of a review of a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement

The MA has published a position statement on Drug Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR) testing, which calls for flexibility in how positive engagement with a DRR is measured. The MA makes the following points:

  • It is vitally important that DRRs, along with other Treatment Requirements, are available as an option for all sentencers across England and Wales, as these allow sentences to offer offenders support to address underlying problems linked to offending behaviour.
  • The MA welcomes the Community Sentence Treatment Requirements project which is piloting Treatment Requirements (TRs) that offer sentencers flexibility in terms of ordering a combination of TRs that can be run either in parallel or consecutively, depending on the needs of the offender. As a significant proportion of offenders seen by magistrates have multiple, complex needs, ensuring they are able to order (for example) a DRR alongside a Mental Health Treatment Requirement is very welcome.
  • Sentencer confidence comes from an understanding that attendance at the DRR is robustly supervised, and there is real opportunity for rehabilitation. Court reviews are important in ensuring not only compliance with the order but also in giving sentencers confidence that the order is effective in reducing reoffending.
  • Instead of only focusing on drug tests as a way of reviewing a DRR, the MA would prefer a less prescriptive approach that ensured general information was provided about compliance with the order, as well as any changes in behaviour which might indicate a positive outcome.
  • While testing offers one way of monitoring the success of the DRR, it is not the only way, and it should be noted that a reduction in substance abuse that does not involve complete abstinence could still be viewed as a successful outcome, especially if it results in a reduction of offending behaviour.
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