Belfast Telegraph

Offenders have drink, drugs issues

More than two-thirds of offenders on probation in Northern Ireland have a problem with drink or drugs, figures have revealed.

Of the individuals currently supervised by the Probation Board NI, 71% have a "small", "medium" or "large" offending-related problem in relation to drink and illicit substances.

Deputy director of the probation board Cheryl Lamont said the figures stressed the importance of programmes that address alcohol and drugs issues.

She said of the figure: "That is significant numbers. The aim of probation is to make local communities safer by challenging and changing offenders' behaviour. It does this by supervising court orders and challenging offenders to take responsibility for the offences they have carried out.

"The Probation Board has developed a range of programmes which in a practical way seek to hold offenders to account, prevent further victimisation and create safer communities.

"Given the numbers of offenders who present with drug and alcohol issues many of the programmes we run deal with those specific areas, and work by providing information about the effects of alcohol upon health, personal relationships and offending to enable participants to make informed choices about their use of alcohol.

"We also work with community partners across NI to deliver effective interventions in relation to alcohol and substance misuse.

"It is important people think carefully about their actions and the consequences and know that if they become involved in criminality they will be held to account."

The Probation Board NI has recently gained nationwide recognition for another project. The Inspire Women's Project team, lead by Jean O'Neill, area manager, PBNI, was awarded a commendation by the Butler Trust.

The trust award scheme celebrates outstanding dedication, skill and creativity on the part of those working in correctional settings across the UK.

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