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Diversionary Schemes

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What is a Diversionary Scheme?

Many different types of diversionary schemes exist, usually established through partnership working, to prevent offending or reoffending and are often part of early intervention or prevention initiatives. Schemes will have different eligibility criteria depending on the individual, offending or needs being targeted. For example, female offending, substance misuse or educational programmes. They can be available as part of an Out of Court Disposal to prevent people entering the Youth Justice System or Adult Justice System. They could be part of Violence Prevention, Public Health Approach or Safeguarding and Early Intervention initiatives. Or they could also be part of an Integrated Offender Management programme to reduce reoffending.

Diversionary Schemes

What are Out of Court Disposals?

Out of Court Disposals include “several alternatives to formal charges available to police when dealing with adults, including cannabis warnings, penalty notices for public disorder, community resolution, simple cautions and conditional cautions” (Sentencing Council). 

This could include Restorative Justice. However, there has been some criticism of such disposals causing a ‘postcode lottery’.

Examples of diversionary schemes include:

    • The Dyfed Powys Police diversionary scheme, builds on a women’s pathfinder project, to divert low level offenders away from crime. Offenders eligible for an out of court disposal can get the support and guidance they need to keep out of the Criminal Justice System. 
    • In North Wales, Checkpoint Cymru aims to provide a credible alternative to prosecution, by identifying and supporting relevant needs and the ‘critical pathways’ out of crime, with the result being that low and medium adult offenders are diverted away from the Criminal Justice System, whilst also addressing the underlying causes of their offending behaviour.
  • The three Fire and Rescue Services in Wales run youth interventions aimed at young people who may be on the cusp of offending or at risk of reoffending, to help reduce the number of deliberate fires, fire service related anti-social behaviour and targeted criminal activity (see also Fire Safety). For information see Youth Interventions in South Wales, the Pheonix Project at MAWWFRS and North Wales.
  • Divert – Media Academy Cymru is a rights-led approach to Criminal Justice Diversion. All eligible young people, arrested for low-level offences, are given the opportunity to be diverted away from the Criminal Justice System rather than facing more punitive measures.

What are Women’s Programmes and Female Offending?

The minority of offenders in England and Wales are women, yet many of these women are victims of crime themselves, often having experienced physical or emotional abuse (see Corston Report, 2007). Partners in Wales work together to support female offenders in, or at risk of, entering the Criminal Justice System. The female offending blueprint for Wales and its implementation plan includes sustainable community-based solutions to keep women and communities safe and free from criminal behaviour. Women’s programmes provide gender-specific needs of women, promote positive wellbeing and supports successful long-term outcomes to reduce reoffending.

The Academy for Social Justice is a network to share knowledge, skills and best practice to promote social justice through public services and civil society. Membership is free and include online and regional seminars, workshops, learning sets and conferences. Latest Events.

Useful Links

18-25 Diversion scheme | Centre for Justice Innovation

Visit the Website

Alcohol Diversion Scheme | Centre for Justice Innovation

Visit the Website

Evaluation of the Pan-Wales Women’s Triage (The Diversion Scheme)

Visit the Website

Youth Out-of-Court Disposals: Guide for Police and Youth Offending Services

Read the Guide

Charging and Out of Court Disposals A National Strategy

Read the Strategy

NPCC Out of Court Disposals Evidence assessment 

Read the Assessment

Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

Nacro has a dedicated Resettlement Plus Helpline which offers information and advice to ex-offenders, serving prisoners, their families and friends, and to organisations working with them. Call 0300 123 1999​.

National Prisoners’ Families Helpline website for England and Wales offers support for families who have a loved one in contact with the criminal justice system. Call 0808 808 2003 Monday to Friday 9am – 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 3pm.

St Giles Trust runs a range of services designed to help ex-offenders with employment, support, community based training, and housing/ emergency accommodation. Call 020 7708 8000.

Unlock is an independent charity for people with convictions who are dealing with the effects of having a criminal record. They give advice and support across areas such as how to disclose to employers, criminal record checks, getting insurance and travelling abroad through their confidential peer-run helpline. Call 01634 247350.

Victim Support’s My Support Space is a free online resource containing interactive guides (including journey to justice) to help you move forward after crime. Also see Victims and Witnesses.

YMCA work in partnership with prisons and probation services to support offenders with citizenship and training opportunities pre-release. Call 0207 186 9500.

Support services are also provided in Wales by Nelson Trust; The Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact); Safer Wales; St Giles Cymru and Prison Link (Pobl).