Supporting 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. 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.


We believe that youth diversion schemes work. Youth diversion has a strong evidence base, a compelling financial case, and, in many areas, years of successful operation. That’s why we have created a toolkit intended 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. If you would like to receive the cost-avoidance tool,  and guidance on how it can be used, please contact Ben Estep at


How we can help


Alongside the toolkit itself, we offer free development support. If you are an interested practitioner, we can work with you to:


•  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.


Please download the full offer from the right hand side column.