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Friday 21st October 2016

Specialist court to open in London

28th January 2008

London will play host to the "first family court" dealing with drug and alcohol issues, in order to help parents with addiction problems keep their families together.


The court will not pass judgment on criminal cases, but will ensure parents receive the treatment they require to beat their addictions.

Westminster, Islington and Camden councils have joined forces on the pilot scheme, which is based on a successful American idea. Cases will be seen at the Inner London Family Proceedings Court.

The pilot will last three years and cost £1.3m. Current figures reveal that two-thirds of children who are cared for by social services come from families with drug or alcohol addiction.

Justice minister Bridget Prentice said: "Cases will be brought to court earlier wherever a parent is suspected of substance or alcohol abuse."

"And during the course of the case, the focus will very much be on therapy and recovery and so therefore on the longer-term interest of the child."

She said that if the court could help to stop the pain that addiction caused families, it could only be a positive step.

The court's model requires fast movement and communication from social services and drugs counsellors.

A judge may rule that a family must have counselling sessions so that their children are not put into the care of social services.

Specialist district judge Nick Crichton said that they were "confident" that the new scheme would "make a significant difference" to families.

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