Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service

Prevention and Diversion Scheme (PaDs)

Prevention and Diversion Scheme (PaDs) is based within the Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service. The PaDs is a team made up of practitioners working alongside seconded Police officers to make decisions, offer and deliver intervention and support for young people wherein an Out of Court disposal or preventative intervention has been deemed the most appropriate outcome.

The team have excellent success rates in engaging hard to reach young people and providing tailored packages of support to reduce the likelihood of further offending. As PaDs is based within the YOS they have access to a team of specialists and professionals that they can pull upon to meet the various needs that the young person may be presenting with, including education, substance misuse, accommodation, or a lack of positive activities.

The PaDs team also have a Health and Justice Practitioner to support with emotional and mental health concerns. Health and Justice are a CAMHS service that has been developed to support those young people open to PaDs who are presenting with low level emotional or wellbeing difficulties. They are offered assessments and low level interventions much quicker than they would be via other routes.

The PaDs workers also liaise closely with children’s Social Care and other statutory agencies to ensure the support around the young person is considered and addressed if required. A referral to PaDs for preventative and diversionary intervention provides a clear consequence to a crime and negative behaviours but also offers that young person the opportunity to access required support without criminalising them.

Research has shown that children and young people who commit offences often do not do so again once they have been caught and understood what they have done wrong.  Research also shows that labelling children as ‘criminal’ tends to lead to more rather than fewer offences being committed. As a result, there is a system of prevention and diversion from prosecution operated by the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.  Provided the child or young person clearly admits what they have done and meets certain conditions in relation to the seriousness of the offence and their previous involvement in the system, they could be eligible for one of a range of outcomes and as such referred into the Prevention and Diversion Scheme.

PREVENTION

Northamptonshire YOS was part of a successful bid to the Early Intervention Youth Fund and were granted additional funding from the Home Office and Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) to tackle the increasing youth violence and crime in the local area. This additional funding allows us to expand our PaDs service, and work alongside partner agencies, specifically CIRV    (Community Initiative in Reducing Violence), Northamptonshire Police, to engage those young people identified at risk of engaging in violent crime or gang related behaviours.

PaDs -  Prevention work is undertaken with those young people not thought to be entrenched in gang related or serious violent behaviour. However, where there are some evidenced concerns, it is recognised that preventative intervention is required to reduce the likelihood of this occurring. Children and young people will be offered support and intervention following an assessment, the assessment is focused around trauma and resilience as this supports us to look behind the presenting behaviours and offer support around the root cause of the concerns. Engagement with this support is voluntary but can be in place for up to 6 months.

The funding for this aspect of intervention is for a fixed period only and this part of our service will be in place up until March 2021.

DIVERSION

A referral to PaDs is completed by the Police officer who has dealt with the crime. From there, it is allocated to a seconded Police officer and a PaDs duty worker. A virtual panel takes place wherein a technical, social and health triage is undertaken prior to agreeing an outcome decision. In order to proceed with the referral the following key criteria has to be met;

  • Evidence that the young person has committed an offence
  • There is sufficient evidence to charge
  • There is an admission from the young person that they have committed the offence

The outcome decision will take into account the seriousness of the offence using the ACPO gravity matrix framework, previous offending history, public interest, age/welfare/interest of the young person alongside the victim’s views where appropriate. The Outcome decision is a joint decision making process between PaDs and the Police.

 There are various outcomes that are considered and delivered through the Out of Court process;

  • Community Restorative Disposal (CRD)

This is sometimes called a Community Resolution.  It is an outcome more often agreed for low-level offences and can be given more than once. A CRD is an ‘informal’ outcome, which means although it is recorded; a Court won’t be told about it if the child or young person goes to Court later. If a CRD was agreed the young person would be encouraged to engage in some form of resolution or reparative activity if appropriate. A young person who is issued a CRD via a PaDs referral, this is completed on a voluntary basis. A CRD can be delivered directly by the Police officer dealing with the offence and not referred into PaDs.

  • Youth Caution

This is a low level ‘formal’ outcome.  It can be given more than once, but only if the conditions are met.  If the child or young person has to go to Court later, the Court will be told about Youth Cautions. A young person who is issued a Youth Caution via a PaDs referral will be offered intervention and support for up to a 4month period which will be guided by a full ASSET+ assessment, however their engagement is on a voluntary basis. Like a CRD a first Youth Caution can be delivered directly be the Police officer dealing with the offence, however second or subsequent Youth Cautions must always be referred into PaDs.

  • Youth Conditional Caution

This is the highest level Out of Court disposal, offering statutory conditions but still diverting the young person from conviction in Court. A full ASSET+ assessment will be completed to gather information about the risks and needs to the young person and identify what conditions are appropriate and proportionate with a view to reducing the likelihood of further offending. The intervention can be imposed for up to a period of four months and levels of contact will be determined by the risks and needs assessed. It is mandatory that the young person complies with conditions and engages with the outcome, failure to do so may result in the matter being proceeded to Court.

  • Alternative Outcomes

Alongside the more common outcomes outlined above, consideration is sometimes given to alternative outcomes when appropriate. Again a joint decision making process between PaDs and the Police include all of the same considerations for any of the OOCD. Some examples of alternative outcomes are;

Outcome 16: Evidential difficulties: suspect identified; victim does not support further action: Evidential difficulties victim based – named suspect identified. The victim does not support (or has withdrawn support from) police action.

Outcome 21: Not in the public interest – suspect identified: Further investigation resulting from the crime report that could provide evidence sufficient to support formal action being taken against the suspect is not in the public interest – police decision.

Outcome 22 – diversionary, educational or intervention activity, resulting from the crime report, has been undertaken and it is not in the public interest to take any further action’. This has very recently been introduced in Northamptonshire Police Force.

 

For more information regarding the work undertaken by PaDs, please contact us.