Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service

Research has shown that children and young people who commit offences often do not do so again once they have been caught and understood that 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 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.

If a child or young person does not admit the offence, they are entitled to go to court for trial, so an Out-of-Court Disposal can’t be given.

Outcomes available from April 2013 include (with intervening agency identified):

Community Restorative Disposal (CRD)

This is sometimes called a Community Resolution.  It is for very 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.  It is usually agreed between the child or young person and their parent/carer and the victim of the offence quite soon after the offence happened..  This is usually done by the Police Officer who is dealing with the offence.  Sometimes another group might be involved, like a Neighbourhood Restorative Forum.

Youth Caution

This is the lowest level of ‘formal’ outcome in the criminal justice system.  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.  The first time this happens, it will be delivered by a Police Officer, and another agency may also be involved. 

If a child or young person is being considered for a second or subsequent Youth Caution, they will be referred to NYOS.  We will make an assessment about what is happening and why the child or young person has offended.  We might offer a programme of work to help with that, or we might suggest some work with another agency.  We will arrange for the Youth Caution to be delivered.

Youth Conditional Caution

Sometimes, the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will decide that an offence is too serious for a Youth Caution, but want the child or young person to have another chance before they go to court.  When this happens, they will refer the child or young person to NYOS. 

We will do an assessment to decide what needs to happen to help the child or young person stay out of trouble.  This work will form the ‘Conditions’ and the child or young person has to agree to do this.  If they don’t want to do that work, they can refuse to sign and they will be sent to Court instead.  If they sign and then don’t do what they agreed, NYOS will have to send the case back to the Police, who will decide whether to send the child or young person to Court.

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