Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 20, 2003

A drug treatment and testing order was substituted for sentences of imprisonment since there was a realistic prospect that the appellant would break his addiction to drugs which was at the root of his offending.Appeal against sentence of imprisonment for a variety of offences on the basis that the judge should have imposed a drug treatment and testing order ('DTTO') under ss.52-57 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 for which the appellant ('B') was a suitable candidate. B was charged with a theft from a car and a burglary and released on bail. While on bail B went to a pharmacy to collect his methadone prescription and stole toiletries. He pleaded guilty to the offences before the magistrates and was committed to the Crown Court for sentence. He failed to surrender to bail. When he was dealt with for all the matters including the failure to surrender he was sentenced to a total of two years nine months' imprisonment. The judge considered and rejected the imposition of a DTTO instead. He accepted that drugs were at the root of B's offending but held that only a custodial sentence would reflect the seriousness of the offences, and in particular the burglary. B appealed.HELD: (1) A DTTO was an important part of the court's armoury when dealing with crime. It was not a soft option since it required the offender to submit to regular testing and also for periodic attendances at the Crown Court with the possibility that following an adverse report the order might be revoked and a custodial sentence substituted. (2) It was incumbent on a sentencer to give proper consideration to the making of a DTTO and not to reject that course simply because a custodial sentence would otherwise have been appropriate. Nor should it be thought that that option would cease to be available simply because of the scale of the offending. At the same time the actual criminality of the offender was by no means an irrelevant consideration (Attorney-General's Reference No.28 of 2001 (R v Daniel McCollins) (2001) EWCA Crim 1373). (3) A high proportion of criminal offences against people and property were committed in order to provide funds to feed the drug habit of the perpetrator. In order to reduce the number of addicts and hence criminal offences judges should be alert to pass sentences which had a realistic prospect of reducing drug addiction whenever it was possible sensibly to do so (R v Robinson (2002) EWCA Crim 535. (4) Since the date of sentence a further report had been prepared which strongly supported the substitution of a DTTO. (5) B's sentences of imprisonment were quashed and a DTTO substituted.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 2752