Judge whose work prevented the breakup of many families with addiction problems

Nick Crichton, who has died of cancer aged 75, was one of the most influential family judges of his generation and the pioneer of the specialist family drug and alcohol courts (FDACs) that have transformed the chances of keeping together families where one or both parents have addiction issues. The innovation has demonstrated the potential for the judicial system to play a wider role in problem-solving.

It was at an international conference in Australia in 2002 that Crichton heard of an approach being taken by a US family court in San Jose, California, whereby efforts were made to work with addicted parents before initiating the process of permanently removing their children. On returning to the UK, he began to stimulate interest in the idea, and by 2008 had secured funding from national and local government to open the first FDAC at Wells Street, the family proceedings court for inner London where he sat as a recorder.

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