1 Nov 2012

First drug courts open in Auckland

8:18 pm on 1 November 2012

The first drug courts have opened in Auckland and aim to help 100 offenders a year to tackle their addictions.

Justice Minister Judith Collins on Thursday formally opened the courts, intended to help offenders reliant on drug and alcohol offenders get over their addictions before sentencing.

Ms Collins said the courts will be one of the main drivers in reducing crime by 25%.

She said offenders would undergo intensive treatment for about a year and a half and will be drug tested twice a week. The success of the treatment will then reflect their sentence.

The five-year pilot courts will sit once a week in both Waitakere and Auckland District Courts starting next Thursday.

Associate Minister of Corrections Pita Sharples says if new courts are to work, they need ways to cater to Maori and Pasifika offenders.

Dr Sharples says the Government must develop a New Zealand model. He says international research is a base, but providing tohunga (Maori cultural experts) within the programmes needs to be considered.