Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by Thames Valley Police


  1.  This memorandum is submitted by Thames Valley police with specific reference to the effectiveness of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTOs).

  2.  Thames Valley police is the largest non-metropolitan police force—consisting of the three counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. The force has some 6,000 staff (3,750 officers, 1,800 civilian support staff and 500 specials) and operates a highly devolved style of management, consisting of 10 police areas, supported by a corporate headquarters. Each area is coterminous with relevant local authority boundaries, greatly assisting all aspects of partnership working as envisaged by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and espoused in the force aim1.

  3.  One of the larger Thames Valley police areas is Oxford and this area has had particular success in obtaining DTTOs—in close partnership with a number of other agencies—resulting in greatly improved performance and crime reduction.


  4.  The police are often the first agency to come into contact with an offender who has a drug problem. In Oxford an independent study has estimated that there are between 1,800-2,300 problem heroin and crack users within the city.2 The report also accepts that this is likely to be at the lower end of the accurate figure.

  5.  Drug related crime is prevalent within the Oxford police area and the area is fortunate to have the services of an excellent intervention scheme SMART3 (Substance Misuse Arrest Referral Scheme) who visit the custody suite on a daily basis to identify and offer support to detained persons that have a drug habit.

  6.  In terms of two of the biggest categories of crime prevalent within the city—namely vehicle-related crime and household burglary—the Oxford police area has organised itself into two specific teams that focus upon these offences and target those responsible for these crimes. Each of these teams is led by a sergeant whose role in the success of DTTOs has been crucial in terms of identifying when an offender may be suitable for a DTTO and communicating that to the Probation Service. These two sergeants are also solely authorised4 to discuss with a detained person who indicates that they would wish to be recommended for a DTTO whether they wish to admit previous offences that they have not yet brought to the attention of the police.

  7.  Such admissions are now increasingly seen by the courts as a necessary indication by a detained person as to their willingness to undergo treatment for a drug habit. These offences are recorded by the police as "taken into consideration" and fully open to scrutiny.

  8.  To date, the Oxford police area has assisted some 11 offenders onto a DTTO and all are now receiving rehabilitation (community or residential) and others are in the process of being assessed for a DTTO. At this time, only one offender recommended as suitable has been rejected at Crown Court.

  9.  The Courts can sentence any offender—committing crime to fund a drug habit—to a DTTO of between six months and three years. There is a view that says that an identical sentence of imprisonment will have an identical impact upon crime reduction as a DTTO. This is somewhat missing the point as it is what occurs after (or even during) each sentence that will have the biggest overall impact upon crime reduction.

  10.  In late 2000 the newly formed Oxford Auto Crime Team, whilst investigating the cost of funding to rehabilitate prolific drug dependant vehicle crime offenders, pioneered the option of a DTTO for specific offenders. This in turn forged links with SMART, the newly restructured Thames Valley Probation Service (TVPS) and most crucially many of the Oxford defence solicitors. Indeed, it is the acceptance by local defence solicitors that a DTTO can be in their clients best interest that has been of most significance. With defence solicitors endorsing the DTTO process, all those with an interest in obtaining a DTTO now speak in unity.

  11.  One of the first offenders to receive a DTTO sentence was Wayne JONES. One of the most prolific offenders5 driven by drugs he was sentenced to a full three year order following a successful initial month assessment. He has admitted some 518 previous offences and car crime in the city centre decreased following his arrest by some 59 per cent. He also provided valuable information about his offending habits and in particular on the major design flaw in a particular type of Honda motor car that was fitted with a CD player as standard. Working with the Vehicle Research Laboratory at Thatcham and Honda UK the design was rectified in all new and existing cars to design out the fault. Consequently these vehicles are now no longer at risk and offences relating to them have dropped.

  12.  However, it is the fact that Wayne has been able to successfully undergo residential drug rehabilitation close to Oxford without re-offending that is the success. To date the rehabilitation is still progressing well and his success has not gone unnoticed within the criminal fraternity and demand for DTTOs from offenders and their solicitors is now increasing. We are facilitating the process in partnership with the TVPS and an emerging blockage will be the availability of treatment places (not funding).


  13.  With the 11 DTTOs that we now have in place, our area performance in terms of crime has improved by 1,097 detections—equivalent to ten per cent of our entire detection rate for this current year. With this figure comes not only improved police "statistical" performance but reduced offending with those that successfully complete a DTTO.

  14.  The consequences of rehabilitation are also far reaching in terms of our communities. Some of the offenders on DTTO sentences are also community problems in terms of anti social behaviour and the positive impact here is notable.

  15.  The success of the DTTO as experienced at Oxford is, we believe, down to the effective partnerships (and probably personalities) at practitioner level. Of crucial importance has been the involvement of local solicitors and the courts service at every step to ensure that each agency remains on board with the process. No one disputes what the successful outcome is but getting there is the success that we in particular have achieved to date.

September 2001


  1 The aim of the Thames Valley Police is "working in partnership with our communities to reduce crime, disorder and fear as a leading caring and professional police service".

  2 "Heroin, Crack and Crime. The Oxford Perspective" Oxford Brookes University August 2000.

  3 SMART is an intervention scheme serving the Thames Valley area originally set up with Comic Relief funding.

  4 There are ethical issues surrounding police officers obtaining admissions if inducements are offered such as particular sentences or offers of such. Local policy at Oxford is that nominated supervisors are only allowed to discuss DTTOs with offenders to ensure consistency of approach with legislation. NB. All such conversations are audio taped as part of a standard police interview procedure.

  5 Wayne JONES (the pseudonym for a real offender) became a heroin addict at age 14. He is an intelligent man and his drug taking required him to steal two laptops (or equivalent) a day to fund his habit. He had a straightforward routine that was well thought out and targeted specific vehicles (Hondas and foreign tourist vehicles). He committed crime predominately within the city centre car parks where he would often "purchase" information on which vehicles to attack from down and outs who were begging in the area who sold information regarding what they had seen being locked in which vehicle within the car park.

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Prepared 20 December 2001