Significantly lower rates of reoffending for children diverted at the police station

The latest proven reoffending statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show that reoffending rates for children who are dealt with by way of youth caution at the police station are substantially lower than those receiving a custodial sentence.


Some general information about reoffending rates is summarised below:

  • Reoffending rates are up by 4 percentage points from 10 years ago. However, the size of the cohort has fallen by around
    80% since 2005.
  • 16,269 children reoffended in the year ending march 2016.
  • In the year 2016-17 children and young people committed an average of 3.79 re-offences each.
  • The reoffending rate for 10-14 year olds has been increasing faster than for 15-17 year olds
  • In the last 10 years the reoffending rate for BAME children has increased by 8 percentage points compared to 3.7 percentage points for white children.
  • The reoffending rate for juvenile offenders given a youth caution was 29.8% as compared to the reoffending rate for offenders were released from custody 70.1% of whom were proven to have committed a reoffence within a year (see table below). The reoffending rate for children receiving referral orders was 38.8% and for children receiving youth rehabilitation orders was 66.2%.1

Proportion of juvenile offenders released from custody or given a reprimand, warning or caution who commit a proven reoffence, April 2005 to March 2016  


The statistics show that diverting children at the police station by imposing a youth caution is the most effective way to reduce reoffending and pursuing the principal aim of the youth justice system – to prevent offending by children and young people. Referral orders remain the most effective community disposal. Custodial sentences arefar less effective in preventing children reoffending.

The statistics do not provide any data on the reoffending rates for children who receive informal out of court disposals such as ‘triage’ or community resolution. Based on the data, it must be assumed that children who received informal out of court disposals have lower reoffending rates, therefore reinforcing the value of diversion (out of court disposals).


  1. For the period January to March 2016 – see Proven Reoffending Tables, January 2016 to March 2016 – tab C1b (3 monthly).   (back)

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