Glasgow Sheriff Court operates a unique service specifically to deal with offenders who admit to having a harmful relationship with alcohol - here is everything you need to know.

The Glasgow Times is running a series this week investigating alcohol as a factor of crime in the city.

The Alcohol Court sits within the same Carlton Place building where people accused of minor crimes are required to attend.

What is the Alcohol Court?

A problem-solving court by definition, this special part of the justice system was established in 2018 and followed the creation of the successful drug court in Glasgow, which has been in operation since 2001.

Currently, three sheriffs preside at these hearings.

As Sheriff Barry Divers explained to a man who appeared before him last week, they deal with people whose "offending has been contributed to the fact that they abuse alcohol".

Through court appearances, they are guided towards help and supported in their recovery instead of receiving punishment only.

Glasgow Times: Glasgow Sheriff CourtGlasgow Sheriff Court (Image: Newsquest)

What happens to people at the Alcohol Court?

When attending the Court as an accused, many people admit to struggling with alcohol dependency through their lawyer, as part of their defence.

If the sheriff deems they are suitable, these people are referred to the Alcohol Court.

There, their situation is reviewed and monitored through regular periods of time.

These men and women "work with social workers and other people who are experts at helping people who have problems with alcohol", Sheriff Divers said.

They can choose which courses, recovery cafes, programmes to enter and are encouraged to get in touch with charities, council services or the NHS to find the best option for them.

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What kind of help is offered?

Importantly, Gerard Bonnar emphasised at a recent hearing, "we, in this court, support people who have a problem with alcohol and are committed to change".

Offenders who don't attend recovery groups or commit further crimes can be sent back to remand court.

If, however, they commit to getting help, they are sentenced, taking into consideration their willingness to turn their lives around.