Drug Treatment and Testing Orders

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th January 2001.

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Photo of Ms Linda Perham Ms Linda Perham Labour, Ilford North 12:00 am, 8th January 2001

What assessment he has made of the impact of drug treatment and testing orders on reoffending rates. [142651]

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office)

We commissioned an evaluation of the three pilots areas in which the orders were tested. That has shown significant reductions in the legal drug spend. The rates of offending by offenders subject to these orders are substantially down.

Photo of Ms Linda Perham Ms Linda Perham Labour, Ilford North

I thank the Minister for that reply. At a recent drug awareness day held for local schools at Redbridge magistrates court, I was told that 60 per cent. of the crime list at Redbridge is drug related. Does he agree that the inclusion of court reviews in DTTOs would be helpful to motivate offenders and give courts the confidence that treatment is being complied with? Do not these orders show that the Government are determined to tackle the cycle of drugs and crime?

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office)

Magistrates have given court reviews a warm welcome. They give sentencers a stake in the outcome of their deliberations. It is interesting that the detailed figures for DTTOs show that an average of 137 offences are committed before arrest, but that figure falls to about 34 a month after an offender has been subject to a DTTO for only six weeks. That shows what can be achieved when offenders are required to address the causes of their offending. The involvement of sentencers is crucial.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

Does the Minister accept that the public now realise that under the Government's special early release scheme more than 3,000 drug dealers have been released earlier than they should have been? The Government came to power pledging that they would be tough on crime and on the causes of crime. We all know that the biggest cause of crime is drugs. The Government are weak on drugs and weak on the causes of crime.

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office)

That simply is not true. The public know that the hon. Gentleman put his signature to the piece of paper that recommended the early release scheme, as he wrongly describes it. He knows that the curfew is a way of reintegrating offenders back into the community. It is disciplined, effective and has the overwhelming support of sentencers and the Select Committee on Home Affairs, of which he was a member. The scheme is working. He is wrong.