Originally published in Children and Young People Now
The Valuing Youth Diversion toolkit, created by the Centre for Justice Innovation, uses basic information about diversion schemes to estimate potential “cost avoidance estimates”, primarily for police and the court system.
Despite the fact youth diversion work can save large amounts of public money, it is not a statutory requirement of YOTs.
There are currently concerns that YOTs are being limited in the amount of early intervention diversion work they can do because of large reductions in funding in recent years.
Just last week it emerged that the Youth Justice Board (YJB) is likely to make emergency in-year cuts of around £12m to YOT funding, the equivalent of a 14 per cent in funding from central government for the current financial year.
Ben Estep, youth justice programme manager at the Centre for Justice Innovation, said if children being arrested for the first time for low-level offences are targeted at an early stage, they can be successfully diverted from the youth justice system.
“Part of the reason that not every YOT has diversion schemes is they are not a requirement. Even when they do they run them they are facing funding cuts. What this toolkit does is put across the research case that such schemes prevent crime and also the fiscal case that it saves money.”
The toolkit is intended to be used for point-of-arrest diversion schemes, including youth triage, youth justice liaison and diversion, or other locally-devised schemes that operate following a young person’s arrest, but prior to the delivery of a formal disposal.
It is intended to be used to convince police, local authorities and health services commissioners as well as charitable trusts, to invest in services.
It is being made available to all YOTs following a pilot that took place in Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington over the last year.
Gareth Jones, chair of the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, which supported the development of the toolkit, said: “In these days of pressure on public investment it is vital that commissioner and service delivery agents alike can assess what is effective and value for money.
“This is invaluable to those seeking to prove their worth to potential commissioners of services as well as assisting those who wish to base their resourcing decisions on good-quality evidence.”