"You are accepted to the Alcohol Court." These are the first words some Glasgow offenders hear on their journey to recovery.

On the second floor of Glasgow Sheriff Court, dozens of people appear every week, ready to accept help for harmful drinking.

The sheriffs presiding here focus on supporting offenders' recovery by reviewing their progress regularly.

Each one of them was accepted here after admitting their alcohol consumption caused them to commit crimes. They have to take responsibility and accept help.

As a part of our ongoing series investigating alcohol as a factor of offending in the city, we went along to two sessions.

Earlier this month, over two dozen people appeared before Sheriff Barry Divers and Sheriff Gerard Bonnar on two separate occasions.

Some of them were there for the first time.

One man previously pleaded guilty to behaving aggressively and destroying property in October last year.

His lawyer said: "He is taking help he has been offered at Springfield Road (Glasgow North East Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service) to tackle his alcohol dependency".

Sheriff Divers addressed the accused: "You are accepted to the Alcohol Court.

“You will be given the opportunity to work with experts who are skilled at assessing the ways in which alcohol is causing you to offend.”

He was given a date to return to court when a social work report will be provided to the sheriff detailing his engagement with recovery services.

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

Others returned for the second or third time so the sheriff could check over their participation in any programmes or courses.

Sheriff Gerard Bonnar told one man: "We have established this court for the understanding of people’s progress. It makes using this court worthwhile.

“You have been here since October and right from the start it seems you're working with the council.

The accused said: “I just feel like the court has helped me and so did the council.”

The sheriff replied: "You’re determined to keep working on this, you show good insight into the harm and distress your drinking caused.”

The man said: “It’s not worth it.”

The sheriff responded: “Because you’re engaging voluntarily, I am going to defer sentence to ensure everything is steady.

“Then, we will be able to finalise this case.

“Keep up the good work."

He then asked: “What has been the most helpful to you?”

The offender said: “Taking in things I have seen and realising that I was in that place but it’s not where I need to be.

“It’s good that I got another chance.”

A woman told the court she is "still alive" thanks to the intervention and another man described it as "a big help".

A second man stated: "I definitely want this opportunity."

When asked "do you feel better?" by the sheriff, one man replied, "like a different person".


Some of the offenders took the stand to be sentenced on their final appearance. This comes after they have engaged well with support services for an extended period of time.

The aim is to avoid reoffending and tackle harmful relationships with alcohol.

A man's lawyer said: "He is working with social work and it may not be necessary to continue the matter”.

The court heard that he separated from his partner but refused to accept this and turned up at her home, then refused to leave.

He also called her every week since the breakup, including at night and early in the morning, causing her to unplug her landline and put her mobile phone on airplane mode.

The sheriff told him: “I have taken into account that you have chosen to take advantage of the help you were offered.

"You appear to have made a number of positive changes in your life."

He was tagged for 27 days, requiring him to stay at home between 7pm and 7am each day.

A five-year non-harassment was also placed on him.

The Alcohol Court has sat weekly since its launch in 2018.

Tomorrow, a solicitor tells us "I have seen the Alcohol Court save lives".