The pilot scheme is funded by York Council and will be monitored during its 18-month duration by the Safer York Partnership and York University.
The first ‘group activity’ course, held on Monday, went ahead with just one person, rather than the target of four.
Other people had been arrested but they were not suitable, either because of alcohol dependency, mental illness or a history of prolific offending.
A council spokeswoman said the course was in the process of becoming “embedded” and it was expected that other referrals would be made.
Those attending the courses will be challenged to look at why they drink and how it affects themselves, their family and society.
Offenders must write their own ‘care plan’ which includes changes to their behaviour and how those changes will be made. Reminders will be sent to them six and 12 months after the programme, along with a check to see if they have re-offended.
York’s programme is one of five alongside Wiltshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire and in Portsmouth, where a scheme claims to have cut the number of offenders re-committing alcohol related offences by 50 per cent.
Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet member for homes and safer communities, said: “A significant body of evidence suggests that these sessions are cost-effective, bring life-long health impacts, are effective in reducing alcohol-related harms, and are also a tough option that cost people time and thought.”
Inspector Trish Hope of North Yorkshire Police said: “We can divert offenders to attend a classroom-based group activity from trained staff as an alternative to a fixed penalty ticket, fine or caution or even a charge.”