Deal with addiction to reduce reoffending: Ombudsman

 
Thursday 7 September 2017
 
The Victorian Ombudsman, Ms Deborah Glass, has today tabled a report into her Enquiry into the provision of alcohol and drug rehabilitation services following contact with the criminal justice system.
 
The enquiry confirms that access to rehabilitation services remains the dominant concern for prisoners and former prisoners struggling with addiction. They are highly vulnerable to relapse and more likely to reoffend if they are unable to access timely, consistent and targeted support services, both within prison and upon release. 
 
The problem is of particular concern in rural and regional Victoria, and is exacerbated by lack of access to secure and affordable housing.
 
The enquiry was informed by submissions sought by the Ombudsman in December 2016. Twenty-three submissions were received, from individuals and organisations.  
 
“The cold grip of addiction drives a pattern of reoffending, in which too many people cycle in and out of prison,” Ms Glass said. “The issues raised require major, long-term government investment.
 
“But it is also apparent that the government is taking steps to address the issues, including in response to my previous report, and I do not think a formal investigation by my office at this stage would take the matter further. I will however be paying keen attention to the rollout of the programs, reforms and funding in this vital area, and will report further as I think fit.”  
 
Ms Glass decided to look into the availability and effectiveness of alcohol and other drug services following her 2015 Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria. 
 
That investigation revealed:
  • over 75 per cent of male prisoners and 83 per cent of female prisoners reported illicit drug use
  • prisoner numbers have increased by over 25 per cent since 2012
  • the rate of recidivism is at a record high of over 40 per cent
  • Victoria’s prisons cost the state over $1 billion a year.
 
Read the Enquiry into the provision of alcohol and drug rehabilitation services following contact with the criminal justice system report here.
 
You can find the 2015 Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners report here.
 
Media contact: Ben Calder Tel 03 9613 6234 | Mob 0409 936 235 vomedia@ombudsman.vic.gov.au
 
Further information: Tel 03 9613 6222 | Regional 1800 806 314 | ombudvic@ombudsman.vic.gov.au | Follow @VicOmbudsman