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STATUS OF DTCs IN ENGLAND AND WALES
His Honour Judge John Samuels, QC
June 21, 2017
In January 2016, Michael Gove, who was then our Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, convened a small working group, with the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, to determine in what way (not whether) problem-solving courts should be introduced in this jurisdiction. Because of my experience in the field I was appointed as a judicial member of this group, despite my retired status; and I was delighted that the group adopted my proposal that the approach should be piloted in a small number of Crown Courts, with extended jurisdiction in criminal cases, and not merely be limited to the Magistrates court, with summary only jurisdiction. On 12 July 2016, at a high-level meeting in the House of Lords at which I was present, Michael Gove announced that four such pilots would be located in unspecified Crown Courts. The following day he was sacked as Lord Chancellor!
Since then our country has been in turmoil: not only over Brexit, following the disastrous Referendum decision in June 2016; but we have now had a weak replacement for Gove who, following the recent general election here, has been demoted; and her Number 2 Minister, who went round the country at my prompting inspecting models of problem-solving courts, has been sacked. The new team, who were only identified this week, are an unknown quantity in the criminal justice field. Their approach to the problem-solving court approach is similarly unknown. Depressingly it is bound to be low on their agenda; since their primary concern will be with prison safety, and the crisis threatening to erupt in the prison estate – more particularly if our current heatwave persists.
The one area where success has been achieved in this jurisdiction is that of the Family Drug and Alcohol court. Only today I learned that this had been expanded to embrace seven additional London boroughs. The new London FDAC partnerships includes some of the boroughs that are original members of the central Family Court FDAC, and seven other boroughs across South London. The new FDAC partnership will be based in the West London, Central, and Croydon courts. Rather embarrassingly I was introduced yesterday at a conference as the person who invented the FDAC concept in this jurisdiction. The germ of what lay behind that was that I had encouraged those to whom I spoke of the efficacy of the regular review of participants in a court-based programme by the same involved and concerned judicial officer.
London has had a Family Drug and Alcohol Court for seven years, and courts have opened more recently in Gloucestershire and Milton Keynes.
More will now open in areas including East Sussex, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire.
Read more HERE.
It is a Monday morning in an anonymous room in a grey building in central London. But Jenny Smith is smiling broadly as she poses for photographs with a graduation certificate in her hand.
Read more HERE.