The London Family Drug and Alcohol Court’s work in 2014/15 will save the public purse £729,000 over five years primarily because fewer children will enter care, says a new report.
The Better Courts report by the Centre for Justice Innovation, a charity seeking to improve the justice system, said the court’s interventions with drug or alcohol using parents would deliver an average saving to public services of £15,850 per family over five years.
Most of the savings would be due to fewer children being taken into care than would have been under standard proceedings. The NHS and criminal justice system would also save money because of reduced drug use by the parents.
The London Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) opened in 2008 and is run by specially trained judges who work with social workers, substance misuse workers and other professionals to create personalised support packages to help parents overcome drug or alcohol addictions and show they can care for their children.
Phil Bowen, director of the Centre for Justice Innovation, said: “It’s encouraging that problem-solving in the family courts not only delivers better justice, an important achievement in itself, but that it also offers a cost-effective way to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families.”
The Centre for Justice Innovation is a member of the partnership board that governs the FDAC National Unit, the government-funded body that supports the establishment of FDACs across England.
Sophie Kershaw, co-director of the FDAC National Unit, said: “The Family Drug and Alcohol Court is simply a better, cost effective way to do care proceedings. It’s non-confrontational style offers parents the best opportunity to change and gives more children their parents back.”
The report based its savings estimates on the findings of an earlier study by Brunel University, which examined the outcomes of the cases dealt with by the London court between 2008 to 2010.