New Zealand’s  nationally consistent criteria for assessing clients and planning treatment. Thoroughly researched, this criteria establishes a modern, robust approach to assessment and treatment planning.


Some drug use results in dependence and harmful outcomes, including crime to support use, violence, and other social harms. As a result, some people may present to the court and parole boards. Problematic drug use, in particular, may require access to health services for health assessments and treatment planning.

Client assessments intended for the courts and parole board should be conducted by health professionals with suitable experience and training to make comprehensive assessments for problematic substance use and co-existing disorders, counselling and treatment. A working experience of New Zealand’s criminal justice processes and working with offenders is also crucial.

An assessment is the basis of a tailored treatment plan. It helps to ensure that an appropriate level of care is prioritised, planned and potentially provided, specific to the needs of that person. This includes identifying and matching people with necessary support or auxiliary services (primary healthcare, public health, social services or custodial etc). Treatment plans should outline the appropriate timing and application of specific interventions (including services and programmes) suitable to the client, and recognise a client’s dual-diagnosis – ie., substance abuse and legal problems.

The national standardisation of assessments is essential to improve the credibility of reports intended for the court or parole board. Standardisation extends only to the information within an assessment, and not necessarily to the approach taken by the assessor.

The key elements of a court or parole board assessment are outlined within eight sections, these include:

  • Criminal justice history and status
  • Substance use history and current patterns of use.
  • Mental health history and current symptoms
  • General medical and health status
  • Family and social support
  • Employment and education
  • Previous treatment outcomes and/or suggested treatment options
  • A recommendations and synopsis of report section.
Download and Refer to Matua Raki 2011. Screening, Assessment and Evaluation (alcohol and other drug, smoking and gambling).