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Probation/Criminal Justice Service

  1. Intergroups
  2. Intergroup Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officers
  3. Groups
  4. Regional Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officers
  5. Setting up a Confirmation of Attendance/Chit System
  6. Expenses
The term Probation/Criminal Justice Service is used in this guidance to indicate Probation Service for England and Wales, Criminal Justice Service for Scotland

Experience has shown that positive results can follow when groups, intergroups and regions co-operate with the Probation/Criminal Justice Service with a view to helping the still suffering alcoholic.

In our pamphlet How AA Members Cooperate, the following appears:

“We cannot discriminate against any prospective AA members, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, or any other agency.

Although the strength of our programme lies in the voluntary nature of membership in AA, many of us ftrst attend meetings because we were forced to, either by someone else or by our inner discomfort. But continual exposure to AA educated us to the true nature of our illness. Who made the referral to AA is not what AA is interested in. It is the problem drinker who is our concern. We cannot predict who will recover, nor have we the authority to decide how recovery should be sought by any other alcoholic.”

A good working relationship between AA and the Probation/Criminal Justice Service often takes many months and sometimes years to build. Experience shows that, as in many areas of service, setting up a system of co-operation between AA and the Probation/Criminal Justice Service is most likely to prove successful if patience and perseverance are practised.

A plan of action could be:

9:1 Intergroups

(Refer to section ‘The Intergroup’ of the Structure Handbook of Alcoholics Anonymous GB)

  • The election of an intergroup Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officer who should have an established period of sobriety, ideally not less than two It is recommended she/he serves for a maximum of three years
  • The person elected will be responsible for establishing links with the Probation Service in England and Wales or with Criminal Justice Service departments in Liaison with the Probation/Criminal Justice Service often leads directly to contact with magistrates who will need to be informed about AA in a similar manner
  • The officer should familiarise him or herself with the Twelve Traditions and the AA Service and Structure Handbooks for Great Britain
  • Areport should be made to each intergroup meeting by the officer to keep intergroup

informed on a regular basis

  • The officer should send a copy of the report to the regional Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officer and keep him/her informed of developments in the intergroup

Intergroup Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison


Some intergroups have a flourishing relationship with their local Probation/Criminal Justice Service department. In others there will have been little contact. It is for each officer to decide the best way of taking the role forward. Some suggested methods are as follows:

  • The officer might set up a committee or team to assist in the work and to Twelfth

Step any probationers

  • Establishing a named contact with each Probation/Criminal Justice Service office

in the area

  • Distribution of AA approved literature and posters for display in the Probation/ Criminal Justice Service offices and to be given to offenders, including, where appropriate, use of the stories in the new Prison Induction Pack
  • Attending meetings with the Probation/Criminal Justice Service to inform them of

how AA works and what it does and does not do

  • Take other opportunities to carry the message, for example he or she may be asked to provide a speaker for a “drink drivers” or “domestic violence” group or other sections of the criminal justice system such as bail hostels, magistrates
  • Keep accurate records of Probation/Criminal Justice Service officers’ contact names and addresses, details of meetings with Probation/Criminal Justice Service, and of the Twelfth Step list so that in the event of someone having to take over at short notice, all ground gained would not be lost


Tradition Five tells us that ‘Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message

to the alcoholic who still suffers.’

Sometimes the way in which a person enters AA may seem unorthodox, controversial or even in breach of our Traditions; however, a closer look will show us that AA is not interested in how a person comes to us but simply in how we can help in that person’s release from alcoholism. Each group is autonomous and how it chooses to co-operate (if at all) with Probation/Criminal Justice Service is for the group conscience to decide.

Regional Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officers

(Refer to section ‘Region’ of the Structure Handbook for Alcoholics Anonymous GB)

It is recommended that officers should have at least three years’ continuous sobriety.

Consideration should be given to their experience or interest.

It is recommended that the officers should serve for a maximum of three years and be confirmed annually.

It is through the regional assembly that the regional Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officer is elected, ideally, though not essentially, being a member with some experience at intergroup level.

The task of the regional Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officer is:

  • To communicate with, and to collate information from, the intergroup Probation/ Criminal Justice Liaison Service Officers within the This information is passed on to region in the form of a report, given at each regional assembly. A copy of each report should be sent to the Board Trustee looking after Probation/Criminal Justice Service matters
  • Another function is often to encourage intergroups where activity is slow or non-


  • To support intergroup Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officers, especially if they are newly elected or are being elected to a post which has previously been vacant
  • To liaise with the Probation/Criminal Justice Service at senior management level, as

frequently a Probation/Criminal Justice Service area will cover several intergroups

  • To send an annual report on the region’s Probation/Criminal Justice Service liaison activities to the annual meeting of regional Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officers, if possible to attend that meeting, and to report to region relevant items from the annual meeting

Experience has shown the following activities to be helpful:

  • Holding Probation/Criminal Justice Service workshops – perhaps under the umbrella of a regional ‘combined external services’ workshop where all Liaison Officers and helpers are invited to share their experience and to encourage others into service
  • Intergroups needing help, assistance and guidance on Probation/Criminal Justice Service liaison may invite visits by officers and helpers from other intergroups where AA and the Probation/Criminal Justice Service already co-operate. Visits may be directed to intergroup meetings and individual groups or perhaps to the Probation/Criminal Justice Service by accompanying the local AA Liaison Officer to lend support
  • Holding meetings of intergroup Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officers between Regional Assemblies in order to share experience

Setting up a Confirmation of Attendance/Chit System

Sometimes Courts or the Probation/Criminal Justice Service ask for confirmation of attendance at AA meetings. The reporting of attendance is not part of AA procedure. Each attendee reports on him or herself, at the request of the referring agency.

Each group, intergroup or region is autonomous and free to use any method it sees appropriate. It is suggested that the following method of setting up a system could be used:

  • Intergroup considers setting up such a system in their A workshop or presentation from the regional Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officer or someone who has operated the system in their own area may be of assistance in understanding how it works and answering any questions
  • Each group considers if they want to operate such a The Probation/Criminal Justice Service Liaison Officer may be invited to a group conscience meeting to explain the system
    • Systems of confirming attendance may Some areas distribute pre-printed “attendance notes” to each meeting which can be signed by the secretary or GSR and given to anyone requesting them. Other areas hand out a sealed envelope containing a card which identifies the group by number or code and which has the date written across the envelope by the secretary
    • Conference 1987 recommended that arrangements allowing members to self-report

    attendance to an outside body are within the Traditions


    The payment of expenses depends upon the group conscience of the region or intergroup, always bearing in mind our Tradition of self-support.

    • Service is defined as that which makes the Twelfth Step possible
    • It is agreed that no expenses should be claimed for individual “face to face” Twelfth

    Step work

    In principle, any member who is qualified to carry out a particular task in our service should not be prevented from doing so for financial reasons, and should be offered expenses.

    When carrying out an intergroup or region function, duly authorised service workers should be offered expenses.

    For a variety of reasons regions and intergroups will probably differ in their approach to this question, and there may be no uniformity; but there need be no controversy if decisions are taken in the spirit of AA and with common sense.


    (Revised 2009)

    Reprinted with kind permission of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Ltd

    © 2013 General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Limited Registered Charity No. 226745, SC038023