Criminal justice

Arrest Referral

Arrest Referral is an intervention at the point of arrest, offering drug users an opportunity to engage with drug treatment and related services with a view to reducing their drug misuse.  It is entirely voluntary on the part of the offender.  Arrest referral is aimed at people who have been arrested and whose offending may be linked to drug misuse.

In practice, an accused person will be visisted in a custody cell or, occasionally, in a court setting, by an Arrest Referral worker.  The accused may be offered advice and information for their addiction problem, or they may be assessed and referred to appropriate services.  Turning Point Scotland’s view is that pointing someone to a treatment service is unlikely to be effective hand holding and encouraging them to engage is more likely to be effective.

Arrest Referral is provided in four of Turning Point Scotland’s drug services: 218, North Aberdeenshire Recovery Service


TPS provides a women only service, 218 which aims to reduce offending, reduce prison admission, reduce drug use and address the root causes of their offending behaviour.

A Safer Way

Between June 1995 and December 1997 seven women committed suicide in Cornton Vale. Following the suicides the then Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Chief Inspector of Social Work carried out a major review of community disposals and the use of custody for women offenders in Scotland in 1998.

Their report ‘A Safer Way ‘ highlighted the special circumstances of women in prison and led directly to the setting up of an Inter-agency Forum (IAF) on Women Offenders which met from 1998 to 2000. The Forum recommended that a Ministerial Group should take forward the issues that had arisen and thus the Ministerial Group on Women Offenders (MGWO) was set up in December 2000.

The MGWO was set up with a remit to: “build on the work done by the Inter-Agency Forum to take forward and implement a package of measures designed to reduce significantly the number of women held in custody in Scotland.”

A Better Way

‘A Better Way’ identified three problem areas which have contributed to the increasing number of women offenders:

  • the number of short sentences
  • the numbers in prison for fine default
  • the numbers on remand.

The Scottish Government is taking forward a number of initiatives to address these problem areas.   218 has been specifically set up to cater for the needs of female offenders.