A holisitic approach is required to help free drug users “entrenched” in their addictions, the sheriff sitting in Scotland’s only drugs court has said.
Sheriff Lindsay Wood, who graduated from Dundee University in 1977, presides over Glasgow Drug Court, which was set up in 2001 to reduce drug-related offending in the city. A similar court in Fife ran from 2006 to 2013.
People appear before the drug court following a criminal conviction and are given additional support in a bid to stabilise their lifestyles and prevent re-offending.
Speaking to Dundee University alumni magazine The Bridge, Sheriff Wood said: “Most people I see have been in and out of jail all their life.
“Drug addiction is not something you can take two weeks off from in the summer. It’s every day.”
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Rather than being sent back to prison, offenders are placed on a Drug Treatment and Testing Order for 18 months. They are allocated drug addiction workers, a social worker and a nurse.
They are subjected to drug tests twice a week and heroin users are placed on the methadone programme.
Sheriff Wood said the approach is aimed at breaking the cycle of addiction and offending.
He said: “You have to realise the pressures drug addicts are under. Their dealers don’t want to lose them as a customer.
“They are entrenched in a lifestyle. Which is why everyone at the drug court is there to help them get better.”
Offenders who complete the programme have an official “graduation ceremony” and they can tell the court about their success and thank those who have helped them.
Sheriff Wood said: “For some of these individuals, this has been their only tangible achievement in life.”
Dave Barrie, service manager with Dundee drugs charity Addaction, said the drug court scheme should be extended.
He said: “The evidence is there to support the effectiveness of drug courts.The evidence shows they work.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We believe the best way to reduce all forms of the harms caused by drugs is to take a public health approach, which means getting those who need it into appropriate treatment and support services.
“We are continuing to support the Glasgow Drug Court.”