Why you want to know about DIP – the Drug Interventions Programme (*Guest post)
There is no denying that drugs have become a part of our society, and sadly in many cases, there are links to crime – the Drugs Interventions Programme is one which works to try to offer support to avoid re-offending by drug users who have been incarcerated. Do read on!
The Drug Interventions Programme, or DIP, aims to engage with drug users involved in the criminal justice system to offer support and prevent re-offending. It was introduced in 2003 as part of a range of 10 year drugs strategies; as of 2016 its reported successes mean it continues to have political support.
The main goal of the programme is to get offenders into drug treatment, continually trying to identify and target people with opportunities for rehabilitation as they move through the criminal justice system. The key moments in this journey are after a positive drugs test in police custody, or when an offender is released from prison.
This means the project has required significant cooperation between authorities such as the police, prisons, courts and other agencies involved with criminal justice creating a lot of substance misuse jobs to bring qualified persons into this difficult process. The cost of the total project is not clear, but a report in 2009 indicated it might be close to £900 million.
Whether this is money well-spent is difficult to quantify as sound research hasn’t yet been completed, but previous governments claimed it was responsible for a 20% fall in recorded acquisitive crime. However, Audit Office figures suggest that 28% of drug users in the DIP “showed a sharp increase” in their offending.
On a practical level the DIP is based on both the “test on arrest” process and “required assessment” clauses of the Drugs Act 2005. Under the first of these provisions police officers must test people arrested for a list of trigger offences, such as theft. Anyone that tests positive is required to attend a single appointment with a drug worker. Under the Criminal Justice Act, police forces can also place restrictions on bail for anyone charged with offences related to Class A drugs unless they agree to undergo assessment and treatment with a DIP.
The programme, although apparently effective, is not without its critics. Civil liberties groups claim mandatory drug testing may contravene the Human Rights Act 1998 and raised concerns that false positives in drug testing could enforce drug counselling on innocent people. In a similar vein, they question the ethics of enforced drug treatment; particularly when this may divert funding from voluntary treatment.
If you’d like some more information, you can also check out the NA (Narcotics Anonymous) here and the Talk to Frank for advice here