Youth diversion schemes researched in England and Wales

Mapping youth diversion in England and Wales, Centre for Justice Innovation, January 2019

The Centre for Justice Innovation have mapped youth diversion schemes across Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) in England and Wales.


115 YOTs confirmed they operate a point-of-arrest diversion scheme and answered a survey. 18 indicated that they had a diversion scheme but did not provide the details.  19 YOTS confirmed that they do not have a  diversion scheme at all.

The research shows that youth diversion is widely but variably practised. Alongside examples of good practice, there are areas for improvement.

  • 31% of the responding schemes do not require the child to admit guilt to be eligible for diversion.
  • 24% of the responding schemes allow children who accept ‘responsibility’ rather than ‘guilt’ to be diverted.
  • 39% of the responding schemes divert for low-level offences only.
  • 25% of the responding schemes run diversion interventions for less than 3 months.


The mapping of the various diversion schemes that operate across England and Wales has shed light on an area which has previously been a bit of an enigma. The fact that 19 YOTs  don’t have diversion schemes at all is shocking and supports the notion that outcomes for children in the criminal justice system are to some extent a postcode lottery.