Ben at our youth diversion workshop in Winchester
Winchester | Ben at our youth diversion workshop in Winchester

Youth diversion: Looking back at our practice sharing workshops

Carmen D’Cruz

Over the past two weeks, in collaboration with the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, we’ve run three workshops on youth diversion for over 40 practitioners. Youth diversion schemes – which take effect following an arrest and involve a short assessment and light-touch programming – are a lower cost, better performing option for low-level offences than prosecution or out of court disposals.

The evidence shows that they reduce reoffending, lower costs, and generate better outcomes for young people and their communities. But despite youth diversion’s compelling evidence base, strong financial case, and years of successful operation in some areas, tightening budgets mean current provision is piecemeal and often precariously funded, with schemes needing support to continue.

Our youth diversion workshops

Our workshops were designed in response to this, giving practitioners across the country the much-welcomed opportunity to increase their knowledge of effective practice, share experiences with colleagues, and hear how to best communicate the financial benefits of youth diversion.

Our guest speakers were a highlight of the workshops. Anna Mullen (Restorative Practices Team Manager, Surrey Family Services) spoke about Surrey’s Youth Restorative Intervention (YRI), while Simon Bramford (Operations Manager, Suffolk YOS) and Darren Oxbrow (Police Sergeant, Suffolk Constabulary) talked us through Suffolk’s Enhanced Triage.

As well as learning about established schemes and our cost-avoidance tool, practitioners broke into groups to discuss the challenges and potential solutions of various aspects of diversion, including: eligibility criteria, referral, casework, programming, and outcomes and monitoring. Hearing about emerging practice – from using Outcome 21 in response to the issue of how to record diversion to adapting Asset Plus materials to address the need for a more streamlined assessment – was another highlight.

Given the positive feedback, and the clear demand for more practitioner forums, we’re hoping to run more events in the future. In the meantime, for more information on our youth diversion work and to download ‘Valuing youth diversion: A toolkit for practitioners’, please click here.