Support for alcohol and drug treatment court
Hamilton mayor Andrew King is supporting the establishment of an Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court in Hamilton following a successful pilot programme in Auckland.
“There is a need for alternative options for those drug users who continue to commit crime to fund their addiction,” Mr King said.
Representatives from police, Waikato DHB, addiction support providers, iwi, health, local members of the judicial bench, the mayor’s office and others, met in late December to discuss the need for better ways to deal with people who have substance addiction issues.
The shared view of the meeting was Hamilton and the Waikato would benefit from an Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court.
Hamilton and the Waikato share societal issues common throughout New Zealand. Poor domestic violence rates, the high volume of mental health patients and increasing violent crime rates nationally are all symptoms of a society that has substance addiction issues.
“Hamilton is a prosperous city, but there is still the scourge of crime fuelled by substance addiction,” Mr King says.
“Our police do an excellent job to track offenders down and bring them to court, but there needs to be more options at the court’s disposal.
“There needs to be a change in how we rehabilitate drug-addicted offenders if we want to change the addiction crisis facing New Zealand,” he says.
There has been a significant focus for many years on the issue of domestic violence. One representative suggested that there could be a drop of up to 50 per cent in domestic violence cases brought to court if substance addiction was brought under control through quality treatment.
An Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court (AODTC) pilot has been running in Auckland with positive results. Many of the court’s graduates go on to live healthy lives away from the addiction cycle. “Drug courts” have been widely researched with the academic community concluding they do work.
The programme is not a soft approach for hardened criminals. Many of those who drop out of the programme do so because a prison sentence is easier than making fundamental life changes.
“I will be using the positive relationship I have with this Government, with support of the other agencies, to lobby ministers to fully fund an AODT court based in Hamilton,” Mr King says.
“It is unfortunate we have to look at bringing these services to Hamilton and the Waikato, but to deny the existence of these issues will do the city and the country more harm than good in the long run. We need to tackle this head on.”
Hamilton mayor Andrew King has supported a potential drug and alcohol court in Hamilton.