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).