MP in call for specialist drugs courts

SPECIALIST courts in Ipswich could be the answer to reducing drug crime in the area, the town's MP claimed today.

SPECIALIST courts in Ipswich could be the answer to reducing drug crime in the area, the town's MP claimed today.

Pilot projects at courts in Leeds and London, in which addicts who would otherwise be sent to jail agree to a rigorous drugs testing programme, show offenders are less likely to commit more crime.

The courts cater for low-level offenders who have committed drugs-related crimes with district judges who hear the cases being specially trained in drug law, drug awareness and drug rehabilitation.

MP Chris Mole said should evidence show the system works, he would support moves to bring it to Ipswich.

He said: “I'm aware that the government have been piloting these areas to try to find those individuals where a course of treatment for drug addiction is going to be more effective than incarceration.

“I'm encouraged to hear that the pilots are showing positive results and I would hope in due course they would be rolled out across the county.

Most Read

“It is very clear that there are too many people in prison who have addictions that aren't necessarily getting treatment while they are in prison.

“Very often because of the length of sentence they get it doesn't give them enough time to for them to receive an effective course of treatment.”

Latest figures for 2007/8 show an increase of 5.8per cent in the number of drug offences being recorded in Suffolk.

Suffolk police links that rise in the number of offences with greater success in apprehending offenders but the results also show that drugs continue to be a major cause of crime in the county.

The total number of drug offences recorded in 2001/2002 was 1,292, but by 2007/2008 that had risen to 1,884.

It is estimated that there are approximately 2,600 problem drug users in Suffolk.

According to the Home Office, about three-quarters of crack and heroin users claim they commit crime to feed their habit while drug addicts who steal to finance their habit are responsible for more than half of all reported criminal offences.

The government opened the drug court at West London Magistrates' Court in Hammersmith in December 2005 in an attempt to break the drug and crime cycle.

Are you in favour of new methods for dealing with drug criminals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk