Sup­port for al­co­hol and drug treat­ment court

Hamilton News - - NEWS -

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.”

Photo / Terry Su

Hamil­ton mayor An­drew King has sup­ported a po­ten­tial drug and al­co­hol court in Hamil­ton.

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