Scotland

Glasgow's alcohol court to deal with domestic abuse

Domestic violence Image copyright Getty

Glasgow's alcohol court is to be extended, a year on from its introduction.

Two sheriffs in the city currently deal with offenders convicted of offences where alcohol abuse was a significant contributory factor.

From next month, the court will also be able to deal with domestic abuse cases where alcohol played a role.

Sentencing aims to address alcohol-driven crime, with a focus on education and counselling.

Offenders can receive community sentences along with an order allowing the sheriff to monitor progress.

So far, offenders convicted of domestic abuse have not been admitted to the alcohol court, but a new programme offering an alternative to custody will allow the court to consider these types of offence.

Under the Caledonian System, now being rolled out in Glasgow, a convicted domestic abuser is enrolled on a programme which aims to address their violent behaviour and improve the lives of the women and children affected.

It is not an alternative to prosecution and if at any point the programme is breached by the perpetrator the case is returned to court for consideration of whether a separate sentence should be imposed.

Problem solving approach

The creation of the "problem-solving" alcohol court followed the success of the drug court, which was created in 2001.

Within six months of the pilot's launch last year, the alcohol court was a permanent fixture.

It deals with offenders who plead guilty or who are convicted of public order or drink driving offences and charges involving violence or dishonesty, where alcohol abuse is considered to be a significant contributing factor.

Sheriffs in Glasgow can refer offenders to the court for sentencing.

Of the 128 referred in the last 12 months, 61% have been made the subject of an alcohol court order.

During the period, 51 community payback orders and 27 deferred sentences were imposed, with only three revoked for non-compliance.