§ Amendments made: No. 23, in page 56, line 24, leave out from 'unless' to end of line 29 and insert—
- '(a) it has consulted a probation officer; and
- (b) it is satisfied that it is feasible to secure compliance with the requirement.'.
§ No. 24, in page 56, line 46, leave out 'probationer' and insert 'offender'.
§ No. 25, in page 57, line 42, at end insert—
§ 'Extension of requirements for sexual offenders
§ '3A.—(1) If the court so directs in the case of an offender who has been convicted of a sexual offence—
- (a) sub-paragraphs (4) and (6) of paragraph 2 above; and
- (b) sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 3 above, shall each have effect as if for the reference to 60 days there were substituted a reference to such greater number of days as may be specified in the direction.
§ No. 26, in page 59, line 4, leave out 'section 10' and insert 'that section'.—[Mr. John Patten.]
§ Mr. John Patten
I beg to move amendment No. 27, in page 59, line 8, leave out from 'satisfied' to 'his' in line 9 and insert—
- '(a) that the offender is dependent on drugs or alcohol;
- (b) that his dependency caused or contributed to the offence in respect of which the order is proposed to be made; and
- (c) that'.
§ Mr. Patten
The amendments make two substantive changes to the provisions in schedule 1 on the treatment for drug and alcohol misuse. Those changes were recommended to me by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs criminal justice working group and were pressed on me powerfully by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler). I commend the amendment to the House.
§ Mr. Butler
The Government have proved themselves a listening Government in this respect, but I can give them only eight marks out of 10 for the amendment. In Standing Committee I referred to the use of "dependence" and "dependent". The Government seem to be trying to resolve the problem by including the definition of a propensity towards the misuse of drugs or alcohol within the definition of "dependence". I am not completely satisfied with that.
In 1982 the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended the use of the phrase "problem drug taker" rather than a range of terms including "drug dependent" or "drug addict". The advisory council on alcoholism recommended the use of the term "problem drinker".
If we do not use the terms "problem drinker" or "problem drug taker", a person may be excluded from treatment who does not use drugs or alcohol habitually, but who may use them regularly. Similarly, some people use stimulants only at the weekends. They might not be taken within the definition of drug-dependent, but they may nevertheless have a drug-related problem. Legislation should take into account the accepted terminology recommended by the Government's advisory bodies, accepted by the Government and which has formed the basis for the provision of treatment in the community.
With regard to amendment No. 32, I am not sure why sub-paragraph (5) appears in schedule 1. It is difficult to see what additional powers or authority it provides or why it is required. If there are additional grounds for its inclusion, it is riot clear why it should apply specifically to residential provision. There is an argument that it should apply to any change in the treatment requirement, not just to one type of treatment.
I realise that I have made a technical point and I should be happy for my right hon. Friend the Minister to respond to me in writing. I suspect that my point about amendment No. 27 may be taken up in another place, failing satisfaction here.
Mr. Tim Ralhbone (Lewes)
I do not wish to detain the House on what other hon. Members must consider to be a small point. However, I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler) said. My hon. Friend's point is extremely important in the context of drugs, which remain a tragic problem in our communities. The whole thrust of the Bill is absolutely in the right direction in advocating treatment rather than prison sentences. It is terribly important that we take to heart those points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South.
I urge the Government to re-examine sub-paragraph (9) of amendment No. 32. That sub-paragraph seems to allow a combination order that would involve the imposition of a community service order for not less than 40 and not more than 100 hours in addition to the probation order, and a requirement to undertake treatment for problem drinking and drug taking.
744 The difficulty is that an individual with a drug problem has a very serious problem that requires treatment. The concentration should be on the supervision and completion of the specified treatment. There is a potential difficulty in undertaking a community service order because of that drug problem. For such an individual, finding appropriate service is likely to be extremely difficult.
That does not mean that it is not inappropriate to impose a combination order but it would be difficult to expect a combination order to be imposed that also had a treatment requirement attached to it.
§ Mr. Patten
I shall respond first to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone), whose long-standing interest in and authority on these issues we all respect. We set great store by the combination order. It may be difficult and challenging for the probation service, and the voluntary organisations that sometimes assist it—to which I pay tribute—to find suitable community service for the particularly chaotic characters who are sometimes addicted to drugs and alcohol or who, from time to time, go on drug and alcohol binges, but who are not clinically dependent.
It is important that people who are not trading in hard or soft drugs, but who are the unfortunate and sad misusers of those substances, receive some form of sanction or punishment to replace a prison sentence. I do not want such people to go to prison, any more than others do. I want drug offenders who trade and traffic in drugs to go to prison for a long time, and have their assets and those of their families confiscated. We must find a way of pursuing those assets beyond the grave if the defendants inconveniently die before convictions are brought.
It is critical for courts to have combination orders available to them to ensure that, when a sentence is handed down by the court, it means something to the offender and the community, and people do not effectively get away with breaking the law. I appreciate the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes.
As usual, my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler) made some interesting points. He wondered why paragraph (7) was included in schedule 1. It provides forthe offender to receive part of his treatment as a resident patient in an institution or place notwithstanding that the institution or place is not one which could have been specified for that purpose in the probation order.I can clear that up now without having to go to the unnecessary lengths of writing letters, although the matter may be examined in another place. There may be places that would not normally be specified in a probation order, to which we would want such people to be directed for treatment specifically linked to their condition, either as a dependent person or someone who indulges in what are known in the trade as alcoholic binges or drug abuse.
Amendments Nos. 27 and 33 enable a requirement to undergo treatment to be included in a probation order when an offender either is dependent on drugs or alcohol or has a tendency to misuse them. Everything does not hinge on dependency itself. That "either/or" policy must be linked to a contribution to the offence. At present, the criterion in schedule 1 refers simply to the defendant being dependent on drugs or alcohol. The amendments will deal 745 with the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South. I welcome the chance to answer his questions.
The amendments ensure that the requirement to undergo treatment is used only when the misuse of drugs or alcohol is directly related to the offence. That will cover cases where the person was not clinically dependent on alcohol—hence the debate over the use of "dependence"—but had indulged in a drinking binge that led to the commission of crime.
I hope that the House will feel able to accept the amendments after my clarification of those points.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 28, in page 59, line 14, leave out
'duly qualified medical practitioner'
'person having the necessary qualifications or experience'.
§ No. 29, in line 18, leave out 'patient'.
§ No. 30, in line 20, leave out 'patient'.
No. 31, in line 22, leave out
'duly qualified medical practitioner'
'person having the necessary qualifications or experience'.
§ No. 32, in line 26, leave out sub-paragraph (4) and insert—
§ '(4) A court shall not by virtue of this paragraph include in a probation order a requirement that the offender shall submit to treatment for his dependency on drugs or alcohol unless it is satisfied that arrangements have been made for the treatment intended to be specified in the order (including arrangements for the reception of the offender where he is to be required to submit to treatment as a resident).
§ (5) While the offender is under treatment as a resident in pursuance of a requirement of the probation order, the probation officer responsible for his supervision shall carry out the supervision to such extent only as may be necessary for the purpose of the revocation or amendment of the order.
§ (6) Where the person by whom or under whose direction an offender is being treated for dependency on drugs or alcohol in pursuance of a probation order is of the opinion that part of the treatment can be better or more conveniently given in or at an institution or place which—
- (a) is not specified in the order; and
- (b) is one in or at which the treatment of the offender will be given by or under the direction of a person having the necessary qualifications or experience. he may, with the consent of the offender, make arrangements for him to be treated accordingly.
§ (7) Such arrangements as are mentioned in sub-paragraph (6) above may provide for the offender to receive part of his treatment as a resident in an institution or place notwithstanding that the institution or place is not one which could have been specified for that purpose in the probation order.
§ (8) Where any such arrangements as are mentioned in sub-paragraph (6) above are made for the treatment of an offender—
- (a) the person by whom the arrangements are made shall give notice in writing to the probation officer responsible for the supervision of the offender, specifying the institution or place in or at which the treatment is to be carried out; and
- (b) the treatment provided for by the arrangements shall be deemed to be treatment to which he is required to submit in pursuance of the probation order.
§ (9) The provisions of this paragraph shall apply in relation to a probation order made or amended by virtue of section 10 of this Act only so far as indicated in subsection (3) of that section, and except as provided by this paragraph or that section a court shall not include in a probation order a requirement that the offenderr shall submit to treatment for his dependency on drugs or alcohol.746
§ (10) In this paragraph the reference to the offender being dependent on drugs or alcohol includes a reference to his having a propensity towards the misuse of drugs or alcohol, and references to his dependency on drugs or alcohol shall be construed accordingly.'.—[Mr. John Patten.]