Drug and alcohol court set up in Gloucestershire

A new court to help parents beat addictions and reunite families is being set up in Gloucester.

The Family Drug and Alcohol Court, set up by the county council and NHS Gloucestershire, is the second of its kind in the UK, the council said.

The court is part of a three-year pilot scheme to support families affected by drug and alcohol abuse.

Its aim is to cut the time it takes for care proceedings to be resolved and for children to be found a permanent home.

Councillor Paul McLain said the focus will be on "family's needs and the best possible outcome for the children".

The court is part of a new £2m specialist service to target "children at risk of chronic neglect and their families".

'Return to parents'

According to a council spokesperson, families selected for the court "will have more regular court hearings than those going through regular care proceedings and will see the same judge throughout".

"The specialist service and the new Family Drug and Alcohol Court will give families struggling with drug and alcohol problems intensive support to turn themselves around," said Councillor McLain.

"Parents will get help to get clean, stay clean and be better parents so that where possible, they can care for their children.

"The focus will be on the family's needs, concerns and strengths with everyone working towards the best possible outcome for the children - a stable and safe home."

The UK's first Family Drug and Alcohol Court was set up in London in 2007.

Professor Judith Harwin, from Brunel University, has been leading a study into the effectiveness of the scheme.

"The first finding was that more parents managed to stop using drugs and alcohols," she said.

"And largely because of this, the second finding was that more children were able to return to their parents at the end of the care proceedings."

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