A lifesaving service for the city's most vulnerable women closed today after a series of devastating budget cuts.

Turning Point 218 was hailed as innovative when it opened in December 2003.

It offered female offenders with complex needs an alternative to going to prison and a chance to explore the root causes of their offending.

The service worked with around 50 vulnerable women every year, helping them get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

We reported last year that Turning Point Scotland (TPS) engaged in a desktop review of the 218 service with Glasgow's Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) - a service specification to operate with eight beds and a budget of £1.37 million was agreed.

But following the review, the council released a budget of £650,000 for an "accommodation with support - female residential service" - half of what TPS was expecting.

Bosses at TPS claimed they were blindsided by the "unworkable" budget.

Patrick McKay, director of operations at Turning Point Scotland (TPS), told the Glasgow Times in December: "TPS, nor any other provider, submitted a tender application as we believed, like others, that this was not deliverable."

A spokesperson for Glasgow HSCP claimed a full review of the 218 service was carried out and TPS agreed with and accepted "several recommendations" before the social work tender was released.

They added: "This included reducing bed capacity due to a reduction in demand for the service over five years and changing the service specification to empower women to access community resources as part of their stay to promote and encourage independence ahead of discharge.

"It also included a commitment to establish an improved evidence base and performance framework to demonstrate the longer-term outcomes for women who had used the service."

Unite, the union representing staff at the service, has been working to find new positions for workers displaced because of the closure. Unite has been contacted for comment.

Nic Middlemiss, head of justice at TPS, warned the closure could lead to more women going to prison.

He said: “We believe that 218 offered a comprehensive programme of support, as an alternative to a custodial sentence.

"The service aimed to address the root causes of women’s offending, by offering a therapeutic, trauma-informed programme for women to actively engage in their recovery journey.

"The loss of this service is likely to lead to more women in custody and trapped within the justice system.”

A spokesperson for the HSCP said: "Despite the closure of 218 there is a wealth of services and supports in Glasgow working with women involved in the justice system.

"Over the past 15 years, several services have developed gender-specific service provision including but not limited to Tomorrows Women Glasgow; Simon Community Women’s Emergency Support Services; The Lilias Centre;  a women’s only clinic operated by the Glasgow Drug Court; and Glasgow Sheriff Court introduced a Women’s Problem Solving Court.”