Judge Justin Philips is a remarkable Judge.
Judge Phillips is presiding over a new type of court called a Drugs court. This pilot scheme started in 2005 in London and Leeds but has proved so successful that it is shortly to open in Cardiff too.
Judge Phillips doesn’t dress like a normal judge, preferring tracksuit bottoms and trainers, and gives out t-shirts and hotel slippers to those who succeed in his programme and avoid sentencing. He calls his clients his friends and calls them by their first names and has a joke and a laugh with his clients. Those who don’t succeed do still go to jail so he’s no soft touch. He thinks of himself as a the last social worker in the system, and that may just be true.
A member of the self help group NA is in every session as is an excellent psychiatrist who really understands how to help so the court is not just a place to punish people but is indeed a place for people to find a chance to reform and rehabilitate.
The results are startling, the local borough to the court, Hammersmith and Fulham, reported a 20% drop in shoplifting and the police attribute this directly to the new Court.
Well done to Phillips, this is a remarkable result and a ground breaking approach.
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