Addressing alcohol and drug-related issues: Reducing harm and supporting positive change.


Addressing alcohol and drug-related issues: Reducing harm and supporting positive change.

The Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) is partnering with ASCERT to provide a ‘Rapid Response Addiction Service’ to people under probation supervision.

ASCERT Chief Executive and PBNI Assistant Director Stephen Hamilton

The purpose of this partnership, which commenced in November 2019, is to ensure there is a rapid response offered so that service users presenting in crisis can be referred to a support service for counselling or intervention within 48 hours for initial support and assessment. They will then be offered a 12-week intervention and support programme tailored to the needs of the individual.

The project will target males and females from the age of 18 and above who are subject to probation supervision. Funding is currently available to work with 300 people.

PBNI Assistant Director Stephen Hamilton commented: “76% of people assessed by PBNI have an alcohol or drugs offending related problem. There is a well-established link between drugs, alcohol and crime. In fact, one of the biggest factors that influences whether someone will reoffend is their use of drugs and alcohol. Therefore, tackling this type of behaviour is a priority for probation. It is really important that we are able to quickly respond to crisis situations at whatever time they occur and we believe that this new partnership will help us respond to those in crisis and ultimately rehabilitate people and prevent then re-offending in the future.

“Many of the people we work with have complex needs, such as drug and alcohol addiction combined with chaotic personal lifestyles, homelessness, mental health issues, and and deficits in family and community support. We hope that the interventions provided will also help to impact on some of the related issues.”

ASCERT Chief Executive, Gary McMichael speaking about the new service said: “ASCERT provides services across Northern Ireland that address the impact of alcohol and drugs related issues. We are committed to ensuring individuals, families and communities are supported in the most effective way to deal with the challenges they face. It is important that when people with addiction issues are at a point of crisis they can get the right help quickly in order to stabilise the situation and avoid things becoming uncontrollable, but that can be difficult because of waiting times for services. This partnership with PBNI is an innovative project that will ensure that its service users can get support at the time when they really need it.”