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Criminal Justice

Diverting young adults from the cycle of crisis and crime: RDA evidence review

The new evidence review by the national justice charity Revolving Doors for T2A (Transition to Adulthood), reveals that delivering tailored interventions that meet the health and human needs of young adults can turn young people’s lives around, reduce crime and improve public safety.

The review brings together the latest evidence and emerging good practice that are shown to support young adults to move away from the criminal justice system. It highlights the need to scale up investment in police assisted diversion services to meet the ever-rising time demand on policing and courts.

Evidence from this review recommends that police-assisted diversion services should:

  • Avoid prosecutions for low-level and non-violent crimes where possible to have the most impact
  • Deliver tailored responses to meet the specific needs of young adults’ health, human needs and maturity
  • Apply trauma-informed approaches to understand root causes of crime and minimise harm
  • Adopt a gender-specific and culturally competent approach to achieve equable outcomes for young adults in the criminal justice system
  • Promote a pro-social identity that builds on their strengths and abilities and empowers them to shape their own future
  • Link young adults and their families into sustainable and long-term support to prevent future crises.

Pavan Dhaliwal, Chief Executive of Revolving Doors Agency, said,

“The benefits of out of court disposals are generally well known but what is often lacking is evidence about works about these programmes specifically and importantly given the fact that they make up around a third of all police cases, what works in reducing reoffending in young adults.

This new review shines a light on interventions that are most effective for diverting young adults into support. It pushes the New Generation agenda forward into practical steps towards reducing reoffending and offers the chance for young adults to turn their lives around.

With magistrates’ courts backlogs expected to rise ten-fold, it is vital that police and crime commissioners invest in diversion services so that the police can deal with low-level crime effectively.”

Natasha, New Generation young adult campaigner, said,

“What made the biggest difference for me was having a consistent support worker who worked with me at every step of my journey, taught me how to notice patterns, followed up after I left the service, and encouraged me to seek help. I liked how they did not judge me or make me feel less than. This made me see the light at the end of the tunnel and push me to make the positive changes and embark on my journey to change.”

Joyce Moseley, Chair, T2A said:

“T2A (Transition to Adulthood) has been working to develop and collate best practice evidence from the UK and globally to understand how young adults (18 to 25) can best be supported to move away from crime. This report from the Revolving Doors Agency makes a valuable contribution to that evidence base of diversionary approaches for young adults. Young adulthood can be a time of high offending but it is also the period where with the right interventions rapid desistance from the cycle of crisis and crime can be achieved.”