Community sentencing options for people with substance use problems: review findings summary

Summary findings from review of community sentencing options for people with substance use problems.


The need for this review was identified by the Drug Deaths Taskforce, who recommended that "The Scottish Government should review drug treatment and testing orders, Community Payback Orders and other community sentencing options to assess how they have been used, their outcomes and whether they are the most effective mechanism to support an individual's recovery and reduce recidivism rates." This recommendation proceeded from:

  • evidence that professionals involved in delivering DTTOs felt parts of their structure are inconsistent with what is known about the recovery process, and
  • an interest in improving community based alternatives to custody, to improve our options for protecting people from the multiple risk factors for drug death that are prevalent in prisons and/or caused by spending time in custody.

More broadly, there has also been a lack of focussed evaluative work to date on either DTTOs, or people who use drugs as a specific sub-group of CPO recipients. This review aims to go some way towards filling in this gap in the evidence base.

The review focused on four aims:

  • Identify what "good practice" in relation to court-mandated substance use treatment looks like
  • Gather all available evidence on people with substance use problems serving community sentences in Scotland
  • Collate the most comprehensive picture possible of the processes, services and interventions involved in delivering treatment-based orders across Scotland
  • Assess the extent to which the current approaches being delivered across Scotland appear consistent or inconsistent with the evidence on good practice, and identify areas that may warrant further consideration by policy makers or exploration with stakeholders, including people with lived experience of drug use and the justice system.

This research findings document summarises the main findings.



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