A PIONEERING project that offers drug addicts access to treatment after they are arrested is to be extended, the Scottish Executive said yesterday.
The arrest referral scheme is aimed at allowing addicts to volunteer for treatment to tackle the root cause of their criminal behaviour.
Hugh Henry, the deputy justice minister, said an annual funding package of £1.4 million would allow it to be launched in Aberdeen and rolled out across Glasgow, where it currently operates out of one police station.
The move follows pilots in Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Tayside, Dumfries and Galloway, Lanarkshire and Edinburgh, which will continue until 2008.
Mr Henry said: "For minor offenders, arrest referral offers an early opportunity to turn their lives around - an opportunity to get offenders into treatment earlier and quicker, and thus to reduce their offending.
"Efficient and effective justice is not just about punishing criminals. It is about providing people with routes out of crime. Along with a raft of work including drug treatment and testing orders as a court disposal, arrest referral has the potential to help break the link between drugs and crime and help deliver a safer, stronger Scotland."
Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Tory leader, said: "Any attempt to address the horrific cycle of drug abuse is very welcome. But the stark facts are that the treatment ethos favoured by the Executive focuses on the wrong issues."
Stewart Stevenson, the SNP's spokesman on drugs, said: "Today's statement by the minister will be meaningless unless there is a substantial investment in new rehab places."
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