Aye is a service delivered by Sacro in South Lanarkshire. They offer arrest referral, bail supervision and and diversion from prosecution to those arrested and charged by Police Scotland.

We spoke to Emma Martin, Community Justice Manager at Sacro, about their Aye service in South Lanarkshire. 

About Aye

The service is funded by South Lanarkshire's Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP). They are a support service for those who i) have been arrested and charged by Police Scotland and ii) have substance misuse issues. In order to be eligible for the service, an individual must be a resident in the South Lanarkshire area and have alcohol/drugs involved in any charges. There are three referral pathways onto the Aye service – the arrest referral pathway, the bail supervision pathway and the diversion from prosecution pathway.

Partnership working is fundamental to the service as engagement from social work and Police Scotland allows those who can benefit from the service the opportunity to. Sacro was commissioned in June 2022 by South Lanarkshire ADP to deliver the service following a tendering process which encouraged those applying to be innovative with their plans to deliver the early intervention model. Sacro delivers the service as part of their range of Community Justice Services with the aim of reducing offending and addressing the causes of an individual's offending. 

Support team

There is currently one team leader and five support workers delivering the service. Some staff members have lived experience of these issues which Emma explains allows them to break down barriers between themselves and service users. This is particularly important for the individuals that are referred from the custody cells as it means that the first person who offers them support has been in the same situation and understands what they are going through. 

Arrest referral pathway

The first referral pathway is at the point of arrest when an individual is in police custody. This is offered to an individual whose problematic substance use is already known to the police. Support is offered to the individual while they are in Police Custody, Aye practitioners go into the custody cells at the allocated police station in South Lanarkshire 6 days a week. Police Scotland are working with many third sector organisations to support individuals within the custody cells. Emma states that she hopes the service can be available in all police stations to reduce the postcode lottery of support available and create a more uniform service. 

Bail supervision pathway

The second pathway occurs when it is decided that someone will be on bail supervision. This is when the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the public prosecutor in Scotland, has opposed bail and it has been established through an assessment for bail supervision that someone is struggling with problematic substance use. Emma explains that this can have the added benefit of providing reassurance to the Sheriff, as they know that the person is receiving support as well as supervision. 

Diversion from prosecution pathway

The final pathway is at the point the individual is diverted from prosecution. In Scotland, when someone is arrested, the COPFS is sent a report from police detailing the person’s vulnerabilities, for example problematic substance use, family issues, mental or physical health issues or neurodivergence. If any vulnerabilities are present, the prosecutor must take them into account and consider if the individual would be suitable for diversion. Support is available for at least 12 weeks, but it can be continued longer if necessary. In order to be diverted from prosecution the individual must take some level of responsibility for the crime committed and be willing to engage in support.


Once someone is referred to the service they are assessed by their practitioner as to what aspects of their life they are struggling with. Areas of support include accommodation needs, relationships, mental health and lifestyle. Once they have been assessed, a personalised action plan is built. This process ensures that the individual feels part of decision making and that the support they are offered will actually be of use. They use visual tools to assess people being referred, which allows them to see their progress over time. While the Aye service has the central model of providing support to those with problematic substance use in contact with the criminal justice system, they also see these other key areas as contributing factors to their issues. By trying to address several issues in a person's life, the Aye team hopes that they can limit these contributing factors and help individuals move away from their frequent contact with the justice system and problematic substance use.

Evaluation and Future

South Lanarkshire's ADP reviews the Aye service on a yearly basis, and September 2023 was their first annual review. The tender was to fund the service for 2 years but on review, it was decided this would be extended an extra year until June 2025. This gives an indication as to the success of the service so far. 

For more information about Aye, please contact info@sacro.org.uk

Case study by Leontine Gnaly, 2024

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