Keeping out of the justice system
The Centre for Justice Innovation recently (January 2017) published a valuable resource for youth justice practitioners involved in diversion schemes. It is particularly valuable for anyone who wants to set up a scheme and make an evidence-based case to local commissioners and stakeholders about both the effectiveness and positive cost benefits of diversion.
The resource is called: Valuing youth diversion: a toolkit for practitioners
What is youth diversion?
Youth diversion schemes offer a way of addressing low-level criminal behaviour without escalating use of the formal justice system. Formal justice system processing, either prosecution in court or out of court disposals, can result in a criminal conviction, a record, and can actually increase the likelihood of future offending.
Evidence strongly suggests that diversion generates better outcomes for both young people and their communities. For the majority of young people involved in crime, formal criminal justice processing makes them more likely to commit crime again. There is a strong evidence base, nationally and internationally, that clearly shows that youth diversion is a better way of addressing low-level criminal behaviour— multiple studies show that youth diversion can reduce crime, cut costs, and create better outcomes for young people.
However, youth diversion schemes in England and Wales need support to continue: because they fall outside any agency’s statutory responsibilities, they are particularly prone to disinvestment.
Current provisions for diversion schemes in the UK are piecemeal and often precariously funded. Due to mounting budget pressures, many practitioners report that promising schemes risk losing investment.
The report argues that youth diversion schemes work and makes the point that youth diversion has a strong evidence base, a compelling financial case, and, in many areas, years of successful operation.
The purpose of the toolkit is to help practitioners make the strongest possible case for investment in youth diversion.
About the toolkit
The toolkit is suitable for any practitioner who is involved in, or considering creating, a point-of arrest diversion scheme for young people. Developed in collaboration with the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, it outlines the research case for youth diversion, and discusses the effective practice implications of this evidence. It offers messaging support for approaching new and existing commissioners. And it provides guidance on a method of demonstrating the cost effectiveness of diversion through its local impact on justice system stakeholders.
The cost avoidance tool – a spreadsheet containing a simple cost avoidance model – is available free of charge on request from the Centre of Justice Innovation. If you would like to receive the cost-avoidance tool, and guidance on how it can be used, simply email Ben Estep at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alongside the toolkit itself, the Centre offers free development support. If you are an interested practitioner, they will:
- Talk you through how to use the toolkit;
- Help facilitate conversations with key partners;
- Help you think through aspects of your scheme’s design;
- Estimate your scheme’s cost effectiveness; and
- Develop messaging for commissioners and other audiences.
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