A police prosecutor for the drug court says the best way for it to hit its full potential is by reaching as many eligible offenders as possible.
Amanda Clarke was appointed to the drug court in 2001. Before that, she was a police officer in Sydney. Recently, she completed a PhD on drug courts to research not only if they're all the same but whether they work.
It was as a police officer that Dr Clarke said she was first exposed to the "cycle of drug and crime", which highlighted the damage it could cause to the community and the families of drug dependent offenders.
When she became a prosecutor, Dr Clarke developed an interest in alternative sentencing options.
She said working with other disciplines as part of the drug court team allowed her to see first-hand how drug courts could provide an "effective solution to drug use and drug-related crime".
The drug court program not only works to beat the offender's addiction. It also links them with support services like accommodation assistance and financial advice.
The drug court currently operates in three locations in NSW: Parramatta, central Sydney and the Hunter. The program is available for non-violent offenders with drug dependencies, however, demand outstrips supply.
NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman will not confirm if a drug court will be established in Dubbo.
Dr Clarke said the demand for the existing drug court program had increased steadily in the past 10 years but the number of participants was limited by the number that could be effectively managed.
"And for drug courts to reach their full potential, they need to reach as many potentially eligible offenders as possible. The demographic impact of the three courts currently operating in NSW is that the drug courts in NSW only serve a portion of the state's population," she said.
"To this extent, given the accomplishment of the court, widening the opportunity for offenders to have access to a drug court program should be a key objective of drug courts in NSW."
Expanding the program to additional locations with a high demand for illicit drug treatment would ensure equality for drug dependant offenders, Dr Clarke said.
"The operation of drug courts is receiving momentum and the question now is whether it could be expanded to other areas in NSW, including rural locations. While this is a question of resources, there may be cost benefits to be achieved in expanding the program," she said.