Innovative Practice Officer, Bami Jolaoso, shares how the Centre supports and promotes pre-court diversion for adults.
Since 2014, the Centre has worked to share emerging evidence and best practice surrounding pre-court diversion especially in the youth justice system. In the past year, with funding from the Barrow Cadbury Trust, we have been working to support the development of pre-court diversion schemes for adults and provide evidence-led practical advice in this constantly evolving area of criminal justice.
Increasingly, evidence suggests that what happens immediately following an arrest can have a profound effect on the future prospects of individuals, especially those with distinct needs, like vulnerable women and young adults. Pre-court diversion offers a swifter, more meaningful and more effective response to low-level offending, and seeks to minimise and avoid the negative consequences of court prosecution and criminal records. This response to offending has been long recognised as a significant part of the youth justice system.
Recently, interest in pre-court diversion for arrested adults has been re-awakened, with the Lammy review recommending trials of new forms of ‘deferred prosecution’. The Lammy review was one in a line of reports that suggested that the negative impacts of court prosecution play a particularly profound role in generating the unmerited disparities in our justice system, especially for vulnerable women, young adults and BAME individuals. In addition, the success of schemes like Operation Turning Point and Checkpoint has been significant in raising awareness amongst police forces of the benefits of diversion.
During this time of unprecedented uncertainty due to the COVID- 19 outbreak, we have seen a backlog of cases putting pressure on our courts and increasing demand on practitioners. Ensuring that practitioners are well informed about the benefits of pre-court adult diversion and that practice is wide-spread, could play a vital role in reducing the current demand.
We are offering enhanced one-to-one support to practitioners who are interested in creating new adult diversion schemes, or those running existing schemes in need of development. Included in our support is an opportunity to join our community of practice, take part in practice-sharing opportunities such as workshops. For more information see our support offer and get in touch with Bami at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be involved.