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Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am grateful for those helpful observations from the noble Viscount and accept the amendment in the spirit in which it was offered.

Amendment No. 220 would enable the court to order a daily or a weekly review of a drug treatment and testing order. We think that the minimum frequency is right; namely, monthly. If Amendment No. 220 was adopted, it would deprive the courts of any statutory indication of the desired frequency of reviews which we believe are generally suitable. We therefore see no benefit in accepting the amendment.

Sentencers particularly queried the necessity for frequent review hearings during our consultation process and the provision at subsection (6) of Clause 50 was drafted with the specific intention of preventing unnecessary hearings. We do, however, believe that the court ought to have an involvement in reviewing the offender's progress. We think that may well have a

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positive effect on the offender's motivation in treatment. Therefore, we have kept the requirement that there is at least one review hearing, followed by paper reviews where appropriate, at the intervals specified by the court. That is the purpose of Clause 50(6).

In respect of the noble Viscount's amendment, Amendment No. 220A, we believe that it does not produce anything that would have a significant effect beyond what is already offered in the Bill. Under Clause 50(6) the court may decide at a review hearing that the offender's good progress is such that further reviews may take place without a hearing. That gives flexibility to the court. By virtue of subsection (2) of Clause 50, at a review hearing the court, after considering the responsible officer's report, may amend any requirement or provision of the order. So we again believe that subsection (2), as part of the general regime of Clause 50, and subsection (6), as part of the same regime, give flexibility to the sentencing court.

I turn to the specific point made by the noble Viscount. He asked whether we have over-provided by way of restrictions. We think not. We have wanted to have a regime which is intended to be firm and supportive; to give a structured regime to young people who will be in difficult circumstances, many of whom would benefit from such a regime--I think many would welcome it--but equally we recognise the need for flexibility in the court regime which we have sought to provide by subsections (2) and (6). On the basis of those explanations, I hope the noble Earl will not wish to press his amendment.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I am grateful to the noble Viscount for his support. The Minister pointed out to me that I had misunderstood Clause 50(1)(a). I thought that "intervals of not less than one month" meant four weeks. Those who suggested the amendment to me thought that they had to be at least once a month or possibly even more frequently. That is why I was asking for a longer period. That point has now been cleared up in my mind.

I turn now to drug treatment and testing orders. I am concerned that the supervision involved does not seem to refer to getting offenders to look at their offending behaviour. It seems to be wholly concentrated on their drug habit or misuse. When it comes to drug testing, which can be very frequent, I believe that cannabis lasts in the bloodstream for far longer than any other drug. I have heard people talk about 28 days. A single breach would show up quite frequently if the person was to be tested weekly. I wonder whether something about that can be incorporated in the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 220A not moved.]

Clause 50 agreed to.

Clause 51 agreed to.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 72 agreed to.

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Clause 73 [Requirements and provisions to be included in drug treatment and testing orders]:

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon moved Amendment No. 221:


Page 60, leave out lines 29 and 30 and insert ("and the nature of the treatment shall include a requirement to attend regular drug counselling sessions while the order is in place.").

The noble and learned Lord said: The terms of the amendment are relatively self-explanatory. They seek to place on the face of the Bill--in new Section 234C of the 1995 Act--a mandatory provision that as part of the treatment requirement of a drug treatment and testing order the accused upon whom the order is pronounced should, in addition to the other forms of treatment he may be receiving under the direction of the specified person, also attend regular drug counselling sessions.

Clearly, the treatment that an offender with a dependence on drugs might receive could include drug therapy, some form of psychiatric advice, or opportunities to improve his self discipline such as work opportunities of a voluntary nature--a great range of ideas which the specified person--the treatment provider--might feel would be helpful. Equally, there is a view that the courts should be seen to be injecting a measure of discipline into the order which has been pronounced. It is suggested that the requirement that there should also be drug counselling sessions on a regular basis might provide that measure of discipline.

I turn to Clause 76 of the Bill where one sees the provision which deals with the breach of drug treatment and testing orders. It is only a breach of the requirement of an order that gives rise to the commission of a statutory offence. That may be felt as a further reason why the order should not be in quite as general terms as Section 234C(2) would currently permit. That is why I am moving an amendment which seeks to delete lines 29 and 30 on page 60 of the Bill and substitutes the words that I suggest. I beg to move.

Lord Hardie: The intention of this amendment appears to be to strengthen the requirements placed on offenders who are placed on drug treatment and testing orders. But the amendment as proposed goes against one of the central principles of such orders; namely, that we should not ask the courts to prescribe the appropriate treatment for each offender. Indeed, the amendment removes the very flexibility to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, referred in his comments a few minutes ago.

The question of treatment is a matter for consideration and decision by the identified person who will be providing the treatment in the light of an assessment of the individual offender's needs. It is very important that the treatment element of an order is as flexible as possible for the reasons explained by the noble and learned Lord since an offender's needs and requirements will change within the duration of an order. We do not want to be prescriptive. The exception is that the court should indicate whether the treatment should be on a residential or non-residential basis. That is provided for in subsection (2).

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Moreover, the suggested provision for treatment to include drug counselling sessions may be less appropriate for many experienced and knowledgeable users who may require a menu of options other than counselling. The options that they may require may include access to maintenance, reduction and de-toxification programmes to support their continuing efforts to reduce drug misuse. Drug counselling may be appropriate--it is accepted that in many cases it will be appropriate--for some users at particular points in the order, but that is best left to the discretion of the person who is providing the treatment in the light of the continuing assessment of the offender's circumstances. I ask the noble and learned Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: I am not sure that I entirely accept what the noble and learned Lord says that the effect of this amendment would be to remove flexibility. All it would do as I understand it and as those who suggested it also understand, would be to impose counselling in addition to what other forms of treatment are appropriate. It is important that these new orders that I personally welcome should command respect. I very much hope that they will. One can only hope that those who are specified as treatment providers recognise that it is important that the orders give a measure of discipline to the offenders and are perceived to do that by members of the public. However, having listened to what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate has said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 222:


Page 61, line 20, leave out from ("to") to ("him") in line 21 and insert ("ensure compliance with the requirements of the order, and to enable").

The noble Earl said: This is a probing amendment which is designed to find out why drug treatment and testing orders are to be afforded such minimal supervision. The minimalist supervision required by the Bill is unlikely to meet the needs of those seeking to end their addiction to drugs. Although involvement with drugs is easy to start, it is true to say that it is much more difficult to get away from it. If the drug treatment and testing orders are to be aimed at addicts then the supervision will be inadequate. If, however, the drug treatment and testing order is aimed at the casual user, it may well be effective.

I think I am establishing an order of scale among community disposals for drug users. It seems that the probation order with an extra condition of treatment for drug addiction will be superior to the drug treatment and testing order, which may be judged to be the more lightweight.

I am both amused and concerned by the new style of the monthly review. Unusually, it will be carried out by the sheriff in open court and with the person subject to the order presumably in the dock. It is a tragi-comical situation and I rather suspect that it will create sufficient stress in the individual concerned in the preceding week

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as to cause him or her to breach the order! I wonder whether the new procedure is designed to bring home to the person on the order the urgency and seriousness of it and, I suppose, the possibility of immediate retribution for failure.

Review of an activity such as drug rehabilitation is necessarily a complex and sympathetic process. A more conducive location may be more appropriate. As I believe that more supervision will be necessary than is prescribed by the Bill, I beg to move.


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