A LONG running Kirkcaldy based drug project set up in response to the ever-increasing levels of drug related offending is to close next year.
Funding had been provided on an annual basis for the Drug Court, which had been operating at Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline Sheriff Courts as a pilot project since 2002 in partnership with Fife Council, NHS Fife, Fife Police and the Scottish Court Service.
It introduced drug treatment based supervision orders as a direct alternative to custody.
The orders contain an additional requirement that offenders are regularly drug tested and those who fail can expect tougher custodial sentences.
However during discussions to move to a two year funding model the Scottish Government informed Fife Council the decision had been taken to end the project by the close of the financial year 2013/2014.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker has called for a rethink over the closure.
She said: “I am extremely disappointed to learn of the Scottish Government’s decision to stop funding the Drug Court initiative in Fife.
“The withdrawal of the Drug Court in Fife will leave a significant gap in the provision of dealing with the issue of drugs in the Kingdom and it will only add further pressures onto other agencies working with those with addiction problems.
“This latest decision, along with the proposed closures and changes to court services across Fife by the Scottish Government will only add further strain to the local justice system and potentially lead to job losses.
“I will be writing to the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill with a number of questions regarding the closure and will be seeking a meeting to discuss this issue.”
Kirkcaldy Central councillor Cllr Judy Hamilton echoed Ms Baker’s view.
She added: “I am a big supporter of the Drug Court and as such I am bitterly disappointed at the decision taken to close the project by the end of the financial year.
“I have visited the initiative and seen the huge contribution it has made to local communities in Fife. To lose such a positive initiative would be a huge blow to the Kingdom.
“I will be contacting the Scottish Government to ask them to reconsider their plans.’’