Pre-court disposals


Triage aims to bring a youth offending service (YOS) worker's expertise into police stations to aid speedy and efficient decision making. The YOS worker will make early and rapid assessments of young people and assist in the decision making process. It offers an opportunity for young people to get access to interventions quicker, for parents and carers to get support earlier and to assist the police and crown prosecution service in speeding up the criminal justice process.

Triage will also bring benefits in identifying those who can be diverted out of the criminal justice system and will help reduce the number of young people that enter the criminal justice system for the first time.

The YOS worker can establish whether the young person is known to the YOS or to children's services. They can then advise the police and crown prosecution service in order to help inform their decision about the way forward. In low-risk cases where the young person admits the offence, the family can agree if the victim is willing and this could involve restorative intervention, rather than court action.

Triage prioritises the assessment of a young person and their offence, which means that the right levels of support are made available far earlier. This can include the use of restorative justice or prevention services, such as family support, which may reduce the chances of the young person moving further into the criminal justice system.

Youth restorative disposals

The youth restorative disposal (YRD) is an option for police which holds 10 to 17 year olds to account for an offence through the use of restorative justice.

The YRD is only an option for low-level incidents, where guilt is admitted and where there is an option for an apology or for the young person to put right the harm they have caused. It aims to get the right balance between addressing the offence and providing support for young people in encouraging them to not commit further instances of crime or anti-social behaviour.

Either the police or YOS will support the young person to take part in some form of restorative justice whether that is writing a letter of apology, taking part in a face to face apology or completing reparation (unpaid work) for the benefit of the victim.

Youth cautions

The youth caution is a statutory out-of-court disposal which replaced final warnings and reprimands in April 2013.

A youth caution may be given for any offence when:

  • The young person admits the offence: 'A full and unambiguous admission of guilt'
  • There is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute

Police responsibilities

The police must notify the youth offending service when a youth caution is given.

Youth offending service responsibilities

The YOS will assess the young person and put in place a rehabilitation programme to prevent further offending, where appropriate.

The young person's responsibilities

Participation in the interventions attached to a youth caution is voluntary and there is no separate penalty for failing to comply with them. Failing to comply with the interventions would be a consideration in the choice of any future disposal options.

Youth conditional caution

The youth conditional caution is a statutory out-of-court disposal, but with compulsory assessment and intervention attached to it.

A youth conditional caution may be offered when:

  • A young person admits an offence: 'A full and unambiguous admission of guilt'
  • There is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction
  • The public interest can be best served by the young person complying with suitable conditions rather than a prosecution

Police responsibilities

Police officers must have the authority of the Crown Prosecution Service to use a youth conditional caution as an out-of-court disposal for an indictable-only offence.

Youth offending service responsibilities

The youth offending service will assess the young person and advise on appropriate conditions. These might be:

  • Reparative - the victim's consent must be obtained first if this directly involves them
  • Rehabilitative
  • Punitive - only used where rehabilitative and reparative conditions are not suitable or sufficient to address the offending

The young person's responsibilities

The young person must also agree to accept the youth conditional caution and the conditions attached.

Preventative services

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