Why is the Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) an effective disposal for Courts for people found guilty of a Drink Driving offence?
Since 2000 every Sheriff Court in Scotland has had the option of referring people convicted of a Drink Drive Offence to a rehabilitation Course as part of their disposal. The Road Traffic Offenders Act (ROTA, 1988) makes provision for sentencing drink drive offenders and for the conduct of approved DDRS training providers.
An article published in the early 1970’s (Martinson, 1974) about the impossibility of reducing re-offending attracted considerable academic activity including research, theorising and debate. There is now a belief that much that can be done to reduce re-offending, including offering offenders an offence focused group-work intervention. Effective programs utilise the risk, need and responsivity principles. They are also community based, have a range of treatment modalities and have program integrity (McGuire, 1995).
How does the DDRS fit with the ‘What works’ debate?
The Risk Principle: There is a match between the offender risk level and the intensity of the intervention. From experience of delivering these course, most drink drive offenders are not versatile offenders involved in a range of offending but first time offenders. The 16 hours of education in the DDRS is suitably pitched for the risk of re-offending these participants pose.
The Needs Principle: Interventions should address criminogenic needs (i.e. needs that contribute to the offending). The DDRS focuses on behavioural change models, cognitive distortions, increasing knowledge about alcohol consumption and legislation and relapse prevention planning.
Responsivity Principle: The intervention should be structured, have a range of participatory rather than didactic methods of learning and should draw on the experiences of the participants. The DDRS is a structured course that uses experiential participatory methods for learning. The ISM course is also developed particularly for a Scottish culture drawing on legislative changes and Government Policies on Alcohol consumption and healthier lifestyles.
Community based: Interventions based in the community yield more effective outcomes. The DDRS is facilitated in the community, which is likely to enhance real-life learning.
Treatment modality: The most effective interventions are multi-modal (i.e. recognise the breadth of participant’s difficulties), are skills orientated and utilise cognitive-behavioural methods. The DDRS has scope for participants to discuss the range of difficulties contributing to their offence, develops strategies and skills for managing drink driving behaviour and is underpinned by a Cognitive Behavioural model for understanding and implementing behavioural change.
Programme Integrity: The intervention is facilitated as per the stated aims, there is sufficient resources and facilitators are appropriately trained and supported. There should also be an agreed plan for monitoring and evaluation. The DDRS is aligned to the prescribed syllabus as set by the Driving & Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA). All staff are trained to at least degree level and are experienced in facilitating behavioural change training. Both ISM and the DVSA have an administrative infrastructure for evaluation and monitoring of both participants and the standards adopted by the facilitators. These are systematically recorded and submitted on an annual basis to the DVSA, who publish these for public information.
This evidence demonstrates the suitability of the DDRS as a disposal in reducing the likelihood of re-offending and making Scotland’s roads safer!!!