Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion Scheme

Summary:  Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion scheme  were created to enhance health provision within the youth justice system.
Age: 10-18
Sex: n/a





  • To improve early identification, of young people, at the point of entry into the youth justice system – YJS- (usually the police custody suite with mental health, learning, communication difficulties or other vulnerabilities affecting their wellbeing
  • To enhance access for those young people to multi-agency support equipped to meet their needs
  • As appropriate, to divert young people either from the YJS towards personalised packages of health and social care or, within the YJS, to services better equipped to meet their health, emotional wellbeing and welfare needs
  • To promote more timely and cost effective disposal of cases within the court system and quicker and earlier linkage to appropriate services
  • To reduce longer term offending
  • To reduce health inequalities
  • To support joined-up working between the Youth Offending Team, Police, Local Authority, Crown Prosecution Service, magistrates, mental health and the voluntary sector.




The Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion (YJLD) scheme was developed in 2008 to enhance health provision within the youth justice system and facilitate help for children and young people with mental health and developmental problems, speech and communication difficulties, learning disabilities and other similar vulnerabilities at the earliest opportunity after they enter the youth justice system.

The YJLD scheme had a specific focus on the early stages of the youth justice system, with the aim to avoid duplication with other health resources within the YOTs (which tend to be focused on young people who were given a statutory order).  In 2016 the Youth Justice Board created the Liaison and Diversion YOT Information Guide to ensure that the principles of Liaison and Diversion are adhered to. 




A final evaluation by the University of Liverpool (2012) of the pilot scheme[1] found:

  • The scheme had some success referring the childrenin need of further intervention to the appropriate services or providing them with a brief intervention.
  • There were no significant differences in one measure of reoffending between any of the intervention and control sites. However periods of desistance from offending by the YJLD clients were longer than the comparator group during the follow up period.
  • There were significant reductions in overall need, levels of depression and levels of self-harm, and a significant association, between improvements and the amount of YJLD contact
  • The combined findings of the mental health and wellbeing study and the reoffending study are suggestive of beneficial effects of YJILD - not only on mental health status but also on delaying and possibly reducing re-offending.
  • Use of resource analysis suggests that there may be savings from the YJLD scheme in terms of avoiding school exclusion and alternative schooling arrangements. The YJLD offers long term potential cost savings that are likely to far outweigh the cost of providing the service.

The following set of reports highlighting the findings of the evaluation of the YJLD Pilot Scheme is available on These include:



[1] Haines A , Goldson B, Haycox A, Houten R, Lane S, McGuire J, Nathan T, Perkins E, Richards S and Whittington R (2012) Evaluation of the Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion (YJLD) Pilot Scheme. Final Report. University of Liverpool. Available at