The Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, and the Minister for Courts, Aupito William Sio, have welcomed the opening of a new Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court in Hamilton.
The AODT Court (Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua) addresses situations where substance abuse and offending are intertwined.
“New Zealanders have told us they want a justice system that treats people with dignity and enables wellbeing,” Minister Sio said.
“The abuse of drugs and alcohol causes great harm to our society. The AODT Court aims to break the cycle of offending by addressing the reasons behind it.”
AODT Courts established in Central Auckland and Waitākere, West Auckland, have proven successful in reducing alcohol and drug use, reoffending and imprisonment.
In 2019, an AODT Court evaluation found that within two years after graduating from the Court, participants were less likely to offend, less likely to be in prison, and less likely to be involved with the Police.
Where subsequent offending happened, it was likely to be less serious.
“This court builds on the two pilots to create what we hope will be a robust and effective source of rehabilitation and recovery for those whose substance abuse is leading to crime,” Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi said.
“Initiatives like this are a large piece in the puzzle that is justice system reform. I am very pleased to see this court open in the Waikato, where I hope it will have a positive effect on many lives, not just court participants but the people and families who love them.
“The AODT Court provides a pathway which includes intensive monitoring, case management, drug testing, and mentoring,” Minister Faafoi said.
Sentencing is deferred while participants work through the programme, including regular court appearances, to check their progress.
The opening of Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua ki Kirikiriroa, the Waikato Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court has been marked with a ceremony at Hukanui Marae, Gordonton.
The Waikato AODT Court will be based at the Hamilton District Court in an existing courtroom which is being refurbished for the purpose.
Courts Minister Aupito William Sio noted that last year, Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu announced his vision – Te Ao Mārama – which promotes weaving the best elements of our specialist courts into District Courts.
“This vision promotes incorporating Māori values and a more multi-cultural approach across the justice sector – which better reflects our nation,” said Aupito William Sio.