COMMENDEE 2011-12: Karen’s Commendation recognises her excellent work in Edinburgh, overseeing the piloting of an early-intervention version of the Drug Treatment & Testing Order there.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
[Karen Morgan gives her account of the work for which she was awarded a Commendation]
The DTTO II is an extension of the main DTTO service expanding DTTO’s to the Justice of the Peace Court and for first time offenders at the Sheriff Court within Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian. The DTTO II is a pilot project initially funded for two years, the funding was extended in March 2010 for a further two years. The DTTO II works on the same principles as the main DTTO service with the exceptions of six weekly reviews, once weekly testing and generally shorter Orders of twelve months in order to reflect the less serious level of offending behaviour.
I have been employed at the main DTTO service since its inception in 2002. In my experience it has been apparent for many years that there have been many occasions throughout our service users criminal careers that earlier intervention could have prevented the damage done to the individuals themselves and the wider community.
One of the legislative criteria of the main DTTO service which prevented individuals from being able to access the service was that they had to appear at either the Sheriff or High Court and there had to be an established pattern of offending or a serious offence. It is well documented that women within the criminal justice system in Scotland are more likely than their male counterparts to receive a custodial sentence for relatively minor offences. Many women within the criminal justice system whose offending was related to their drug use did not meet the criteria for the main DTTO service due to the different nature of their offending behaviour. Women were coming to the attention of the Court through offences of street prostitution which are dealt with through the Justice of the Peace Court which prior to DTTO II’s were unable to make a disposal of a DTTO. Therefore, many women were effectively excluded from being able to access drug treatment through the criminal justice system.
The DTTO II also enables us to provide effective treatment and monitoring to young offenders appearing before the Sheriff Court and the Justice of the Peace Courts for the first time. The DTTO II has been successful in engaging younger drug users some of whom are on the borderline of progressing into more serious, entrenched drug use. By intervening at an earlier stage the DTTO II service has been able to tackle their drug use at an earlier stage and prevent their drug use escalating. By successfully addressing their drug use at an earlier stage this also prevents an escalation in offending and minimises the harm caused to the individual themselves.
I manage a small multidisciplinary team of two Social Workers; two Resource Workers; two Nurses and one support assistant. Each service user is allocated a Nurse; Social Worker and Resource Worker. Service users are offered a wraparound service to support them to address their substance use and wider social lifestyle issues. The following is a brief guide to the work that is undertaken with individual service users.
Nursing staff work with clients to address their drug use; monitor prescriptions; provide harm reduction advice; overdose awareness sessions; contraception advice; Relapse Prevention work; anxiety management; sleep hygiene; monitor mental health; general health advice and liaise with General Practitioners. Social Work staff attend six weekly reviews at Court; are responsible for monitoring compliance with the Order; liaise closely with Children and Family Social Work colleagues as well as providing reports and attending Child Protection meetings. Resource Work staff support; assist and provide advice to service users with accessing accommodation; general housing issues; welfare benefits advice and assistance; employment/educational and training advice; leisure activities; facilitate and co-facilitate a range of groupwork programmes including healthy living groups; gardening groups and computer skills.
[The following article appeared in issue 4 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]
Karen Morgan has been commended for her pioneering work with early interventions. Working with the Drug Treatment and Testing Order (DTTO) Team at City of Edinburgh Council, she has been leading a team piloting a programme designed to ‘catch’ service users before they come to the attention of the DTTO service.
The programme, known as DTTO II, allows DTTOs to be made for vulnerable service users who have very limited offending history. With a multi-disciplinary team that includes two social workers, two resource workers, two nurses and a support assistant, Karen offers service users a wraparound service to help them address their substance use and wider social lifestyle issues. Nursing support includes prescription monitoring, overdose awareness sessions, harm reduction and relapse prevention work, as well as general health advice and help with sleep, contraception, anxiety and mental health. They are also given help in liaising with GPs and are given support with positive pregnancy, focusing on the needs of the unborn baby. Social work staff attend court reviews and child protection meetings, and liaise closely with children and family work colleagues.
Resource workers help service users with hous ing issues, including finding accommoda tion; benefits advice; education, employment and training; leisure activities; and life skills including healthy living, gardening and computer knowledge. One of the main successes of the programme has been in allowing service users to address their offending and access treatment while remaining in full-time employment, giving them the chance to stay connected with the drug-free elements of their lives.
Karen has also had significant successes in bringing female service users into treatment, including street workers. She has prevented many female drug users from descending into chaotic lifestyles, persuading them they have the chance of change. The positive effect that she is having is demonstrated by such initiatives as an open evening where female service users meet with sentencers to tell them of their personal journeys.
Her evening information sessions for sentencers and others involved in the criminal justice system have further drawn attention to the difficulties faced by marginalised groups, and have encouraged ideas to address them. She has successfully challenged magistrates’ set opinions that drug misuse is always a self-inflicted problem and that street workers should always be fined. Karen’s skills of tact and diplomacy have been essential to the sensitive business of achieving a balance between the treatment aspect of a DTTO and the criminal justice component, so service users are not punished for ‘not accepting help’. Karen and her team have achieved the DTTO II pilot’s objective of catching service users early in their criminal history before they fall into a custodial ‘revolving door’. This was confirmed by the Scottish Government’s independent evaluation, which resulted in an extension of funding for another two years.
The Justice of the Peace in Edinburgh has credited Karen with helping her team to see ‘the person behind the problem’, and that ‘however bleak present circumstances may be, positive change is always possible.’ She added: ‘For many of these young women it is the first time that someone has viewed them in a positive light.’
For more information: contact City of Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services