Decline in the use of diversions

Trends in court and out of court disposals 2007-17. Source: Rob Allen, Transform Justice (2017) 

A recent report by Transform Justice, shows a large decline in the use of diversions for adults. According to the report more than half of first time offenders now go to court rather than receive a caution, compared to 1 in 5 ten years ago.

The report attributes this steep decline to efforts to end what it terms a “cautions culture” by restricting the availability and use of out of court disposals. As part of this trend, the government intends to replace the existing range of options with 2 main alternatives: community resolutions and conditional cautions – a two-tier system already being trialled by three police forces.

As we argued in a recent blog post, Khulisa advocates the use of out of court diversions as a means of reducing re-offending and addressing the root-causes of offending in a more proactive manner. We believe in a person-centred approach to justice based on welfare. This is informed by our experience, which has taught us that a risk based approach to criminal justice based on imprisonment has a lower impact on rehabilitation.

Financially, we know the costs associated with getting offenders through the criminal justice system coupled with that of imprisoning them makes prison a disproportionate censure mechanism for low-level offenders. At an individual level we know that prison affects the objective factors that prevent recidivism. In this respect, the use of diversions is a more cost-effective way of dealing with the root-causes of behaviour while simultaneously avoiding the criminogenic nature of prison. We call for

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