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Waikato Alcohol and Drug Court Welcomes Announcement

12/12/2019

Waikato Alcohol and Drug Court Formation Committee Welcomes Government Announcement

The Waikato Alcohol and Drug Court Formation Committee welcome the announcement made by Justice Minister Andrew Little this morning that an Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court would be established in Hamilton. We also congratulate the two Auckland Courts on achieving permanent status.

Hamilton and the Waikato region has seen a significant increase in drug and drug related crime. While the Police, Courts and Corrections have been processing offenders, reoffending and offending on bail remains high amongst those with high needs and high-risk offenders.

The AODT Court seeks to support those who are committed to making fundamental life changes to break the cycle of addiction and offending. AODT Court is not a soft option for harden criminals, many participants state it is the hardest thing they have ever done, and prison was easier.

There have been several conversations being held over the past 18 months that have led to today’s announcement. The Committee would like to acknowledge former Hamilton Mayor Andrew King for his involvement, lobbying ministers, sponsoring papers to the Mayoral Forum, connecting the Committee to funding and providing media commentary over the past 12 months, he has shown tremendous support to establishing an AODT Court in Hamilton.

The Committee would also like to acknowledge local MPs Tim Macindoe, Jamie Strange and David Bennett for their support to establish a local AODT Court.

The Committee is excited to move into the next stage of planning for a Court, which will include liaising the local judiciary about operational matters including a presiding judge.

Conversations will continue with Waikato health providers to create a program that will benefit Court participates. It is important that these steps are not rushed as they are vital to achieving good outcomes.

The Committee will be confirming funding streams available from the Ministry to ensure providers and stakeholders are aware of what is expected. The Committee looks forward to working with all stakeholders to turning this announcement into action.

The AODT Court based in Hamilton will differ from the two Auckland Courts. The Hamilton based Court will accept referrals from other Courts that make up the Hamilton Circuit (e.g Te Awamutu and Morrisville). This creates an added degree of complexity that the Committee will be looking to resolve as this a regional approach, particularly as test case for rural communities as future Governments look to roll out AODT Courts throughout the country.

Admission criteria to the Court has not yet been decided, however it is expected to be similar to that being used in the two Auckland Courts.

The Committee is excited by today’s announcement and is looking forward to the next phase of the project

Waikato Alcohol and Other Drug Court Formation Committee

…END

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