Comparison of Voluntary and Enforced Treatment

QCT Europe: UK findings


Findings from our study reveal that DTTO clients showed considerable and sustained reductions in substance use, injecting risk and offending behaviours, and some improvements in their mental health. Outcomes were similar for those respondents who entered comparable ‘voluntary’ treatment options. The results – which are consistent with those from the other four partner countries involved in the QCT Europe study – suggest that drug treatment that is motivated, ordered or supervised by the criminal justice system can have comparable retention rates and outcomes to drug treatment entered through non-criminal justice routes. The approach should therefore be considered a viable alternative to imprisonment. However, from our qualitative analysis, there appeared to be considerable scope for improving arrangements for aftercare and resettlement for both groups across the UK sites.

More attention should also be paid to issues of treatment process and coordination between health and criminal justice systems in order to provide high quality and consistent treatment that is likely to optimise outcomes for individuals and the wider community. Attention should particularly be focused on:

• Ensuring that treatment is made quickly available to those offenders who are likely to produce the most significant benefits (i.e. those who have high levels of offending) in a manner which enhances motivation and engagement.

• Developing supportive “therapeutic alliances” between offenders and their probation officers and treatment staff.

• Dealing effectively with non-compliance. This does not mean that any lapses in drug use or attendance should be heavily punished; rather that they should be dealt with in a prompt and consistent way, recognising positive as well as negative behaviour changes.

• Making the full range of treatment options available to people who enter treatment as part of a court order, so that they can access support appropriate to their needs.

• Improving access to education, training and employment schemes.

Recent years have seen a rapid expansion in the options available for the criminal justice system to encourage or direct drug-dependent offenders into treatment in England and Wales. Our hope is that the results from the QCT Europe study can be used constructively to inform debate about the appropriate use of these options.

How to get further information

Copies of the full report, The quasi-compulsory treatment of drug-dependent offenders in Europe: Final National Report – England, by Tim McSweeney

The QCT Europe study was funded by the Fifth European Community Framework Programme covering Research, Technological Development and Demonstration activities (Quality of Life programme, contract number QLG4-CT-2002-01446). The authors are solely responsible for the content of this document. It does not represent the opinion of the Community. The Community is not responsible for any use that might be made of data appearing in it.

Source: Daily Dose. June 2006
Filed under: Treatment and Addiction :

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