Probation officer Mike Arch, from Gloucestershire, explains drug
testing and treatment orders - the strictest community-based penalties
meted out as an alternative to prison.
find it really hopeful work, really meaningful. You're alongside
someone who is embarking on a really worthy but great struggle.
with a 10-year habit has to make such profound changes to their
thinking and their lifestyle - it's extremely difficult.
probation orders involve a weekly meeting. This is a five-day a
week programme, particularly in the first three months.
Weekly drug tests
people we work with are typically men, aged between 18 and 35, unemployed,
addicted to heroin or crack cocaine - and they may have been stealing
every day to fund that addiction.
But their offending drops as the treatment works, as they stabilise
they may have been using up to £1,000 worth of drugs a week, that
can fall to £40 a week. There's
far less crime required to fund that.
it's called coercive treatment, the majority want treatment because
their lives have gone horribly wrong and they are facing prison.
Someone with a 10-year habit has to make
such profound changes to their thinking and their lifestyle
- it's extremely difficult.
officer Mike Arch
"orders" are now standard practice As the supervising probation
officer, I'm responsible for making sure they turn up to all the
appointments they're meant to turn up for.
they miss two - and that's two in a year - without a valid reason,
then we take them back to court for breaching the order.
come back and start going to meetings again. This initiative is
the first step in moving resources away from punishment and into
it is not a palliative for all problems that are drug-related in
of my first cases was a 25-year-old who had been injecting heroin
since the age of 14. He was living in really dreadful B&Bs and spending
up to £500 a week on drugs, most of which was funded through crime.
I think he enjoyed coming to probation, it gave structure to his
talked about his drug use - in which he was economic with the truth,
both with me and with himself - his lifestyle, his relationships.
really hopeful work, really meaningful"
we also engaged in conversation - philosophy, current affairs.
People often take three or four attempts
to address their drug-use and fail. That can motivate them to
try again, to look at what went wrong.
officer Mike Arch
someone who's really isolated, who knows no one outside the drugs
circle, that's really important.
almost the old befriending approach, which was the original approach
of probation many years ago.
really struggled to come to terms with his drug use - it was eight
months before he got his first clean test.
six months, he realised that residential treatment was his only
realistic option. He lasted about two weeks.
was very intensive group work, and it turned out to be too painful
for him. It's the old befriending approach, which was the original
approach of probation years ago
he came back, resolved to be drug-free. That's a really dangerous
time for drug users, because their tolerance drops.
overdosed several weeks later, and came very close to dying. He
was still making five probation appointments a week throughout all
in the end, it wasn't enough for him and I've not heard from him
it's still a success, as far as I'm concerned. This
guy - and there's many like him - hadn't contemplated a drug-free
lifestyle in 10 years.
Yet he seriously looked at his drug-use and how it was affecting
his life. And he did manage a period of abstinence, albeit short-lived.
often take three or four attempts to address their drug-use
and fail. That can motivate them to try again, to look at what
taken from BBC News
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