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O'Connor visits Odyssey House as part of review

Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister of Corrections,
Minister of Tourism,
Minister for Rural Affairs,
Associate Minister of Health

28 November, 2006 Media Statement

O'Connor visits Odyssey House as part of substance abuse services review

Corrections Minister and Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor today visited Auckland addiction services provider Odyssey House as part of his review of mental health treatment services across the justice sector.

Two reviews are presently underway.

- Officials in the Ministries of Health and Justice – including youth justice, the Corrections Department and from Police are investigating the availability of alcohol and drug related treatment services for offenders in the community, such as Odyssey House. The review is due to be completed by the middle of 2007;

- The interface between Ministry of Health's mental health and addiction treatment services and the criminal justice system is being reviewed. To be completed early next year.

Mr O'Connor said the stocktake of services reflects the huge impact addiction and substance abuse has on the crime rate in New Zealand. Up to 60 per cent of offenders are affected by alcohol or drugs at the time of their offending.

"Treatment of substance abuse requires a whole of government approach and involves the cooperation and collaboration of a number of different sectors, including non-government organisations such as Odyssey House, the Salvation Army and Care New Zealand."

"Officials are looking at interventions which occur at all stages in the justice system to see where improvements can be made – from the first time a youth is picked up off the street intoxicated, through to treatment available to offenders in prison and on community sentences, to relapse prevention treatment of offenders on parole. Gambling addiction treatment is another area I am looking closely at."

The reviews are part of a multi-pronged approach to improving the delivery of mental health and addiction services, Mr O'Connor said.

Other initiatives underway include:

- A significant rise in drug and alcohol treatment places in prisons. From 2008, 550 prisoners a year will be able to access extensive programmes to help them get free of alcohol or drugs.

- An improved tool to screen offenders for addiction.

- A revision of the Prison Opioid Substitution and Detoxification Protocol so that methadone maintenance treatment will be extended to allow any prisoner enrolled in a methadone maintenance treatment programme to continue the treatment while in prison, and if necessary upon release back into the community.

- The development of an addiction services pathway for offenders with mental health, alcohol and drug and gambling addictions in consultation with the addiction sector.

The initiatives form a part of the Government's Effective Interventions strategy to improve New Zealand’s criminal justice system. The strategy is designed to protect our communities by punishing offenders appropriately, to make better use of our prisons and to cut our re-offending rates.


ENDS

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