Specialist ‘problem-solving’ courts could be piloted in England and Wales, the government has confirmed – prompting scepticism among solicitors who say past experience suggests the project is doomed to fail.
Solicitors and magistrates have praised a London advice service which helped more than 600 people in its first year. Community Advice was set up at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court in January last year by the North London Local Justice Area, with support from the Centre for Justice Innovation.
The Centre for Justice Innovation says the London Family Drug and Alcohol Court cost £560,000 across its 2014-15 caseload, a sum that includes expenses such as specialist staff salaries and office costs. But it generated estimated gross savings to public sector bodies of £1.29m arising from that caseload over five years.
The Better Courts report by the Centre for Justice Innovation, a charity seeking to improve the justice system, said the court’s interventions with drug or alcohol using parents would deliver an average saving to public services of £15,850 per family over five years.