Out-of-court-disposals and prevention

When a child commits an offence in some cases, it may be most appropriate to divert or ‘triage’ them away from the criminal justice system entirely and work with the child, family and victim through more informal ways to address their needs and prevent further offending. There is no one method of working with children to divert them.

Generally, if a child has been ‘triaged’ or diverted but becomes involved in further offences it may be appropriate to consider an out of court disposal or charge.

Out-of-court disposals can be used for children who have admitted an offence, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute as it is not always appropriate for children that commit a crime to be sent to Court. It may be appropriate for the Police and Youth Offending Teams to consider an Out of Court disposal.

Out-of-court disposals range of options include;

  • No further action;
  • Community Resolution; (community resolution is the term for the resolution of a minor offence or anti-social behaviour incident through informal agreement between the parties involved, as opposed to progression through the traditional criminal justice process)
  • Youth Caution; (Youth cautions aim to provide a proportionate and effective resolution to offending and support the principle statutory aim of the youth justice system of preventing offending by children)
  • Youth Conditional Caution; (Youth conditional cautions are a caution with one or more conditions attached. If a child does not keep to the conditions they could be prosecuted for the original offence).

Prevention may involve programmes or interventions that support the child to avoid contact with the criminal justice system in the first instance. youth offending teams do not typically receive funding for this type of activity, however they are most often involved in supporting many projects. There is no one way of dealing with prevention.


Youth Justice Board, in collaboration with Stakeholders has agreed key definition of prevention and diversion (2021).     

Summary: Attached is a published link to the Centre of Justice Innovation briefing about youth diversion.   Description: The Centre for Justice Innovation have published their fifth evidence and practice briefing, ensuring effective referral into youth diversion. The briefing focuses on systems for referring children and young people into diversion. It outlines the evidence base on referrals, explores good practice…
Age:  8-17 Sex:  n/a Cost:  no   Aims: To provide schools with an option short of a formal complaint to the police To offer an additional resource/option to deal with a serious incident At the earliest opportunity to divert young people committing low gravity offences away from the criminal justice system into effective interventions Increase the confidence of victims through…
Age: 10-17 Sex: n/a Cost: none     Aims: To reduce the number of First Time Entrants to The Youth Justice System - by diverting young people committing low level offences away from the criminal justice system at the earliest opportunity. Reduction in re-offending rates – research evidences that addressing low level criminal behaviour without formally processing young people through…
Age: 10-18 Sex: n/a Cost: none  Aims: The Liaison and Diversion project is aimed at fostering early identification and intervention with potential offenders. It allows for the earlier identification of any health needs that may be contributing towards offending.   Description: Gloucestershire Youth Offending Team has tailored the Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion scheme to suit its local needs. The…