So-called ‘problem-solving’ courts provide individualised assessments of offenders, taking into account personal circumstances that may result in repeat offending and seeking to reach agreement with individuals in a non-confrontational way. Such courts rely on having a consistent relationship between the judge and the offender and often adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, bringing together several agencies at one site.
In 2016, the previous Minister for Justice promised to implement reforms to ensure these courts worked more effectively following a Justice Committee review. I asked the current Minister where we are now, a good three years on, in implementing these changes.
Sadly, it seems the Government has taken its eye off the ball as the Minister could not provide any evidence as to where the Department has got to. She has promised to write to the Committee and I will be looking carefully at her response.