Report explores unequal playing field in youth justice system

  • Date

    Thu 25 Mar 21

Picture of four young people sitting on a  wall, chatting and checking their phones

A new report from the Centre for Justice Innovation explores the unequal playing field that exists for young people in the youth justice system, and their participation in diversion schemes.

The report, titled Equal diversion? Racial disproportionality in youth diversion, is co-authored with  Dr Alexandra Cox, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, and documents findings from interviews with Youth Offending Team staff, police, solicitors, young people and their families, in an in-depth look at racial disparity in youth diversion in two local authorities in England and Wales.

'Youth diversion' refers to a set of informal, non-statutory practices in which children and young people are provided with the opportunity to avoid a statutory out of court disposal or a court prosecution, and a criminal record, if they complete community-based interventions.

While the findings of the report identify practices and policies that negatively impact on BAME children, the report concludes that with a commitment to changing how youth diversion operates, all young people can be offered a chance to change their behaviour and realise their future potential.

Dr Cox said: “I was thrilled to be able to contribute to this critically important research study on racial and ethnic disparities in the youth justice system. There are alarming racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the numbers of young people offered the opportunity to be diverted from formal justice system contact, and this study seeks to understand why this is the case and it provides a set of policy recommendations aimed at addressing those disparities.”

Read the report.