Probleemgericht werken aan High Impact Crime
[246] 3 augustus 2021: Evidence review: Diverting young adults away from the cycle of crisis and crime

Inleiding en context

Goede morgen beste thuis-, praktijk- en kantoorwerkers, het is vandaag dinsdag 3 augustus 2021. Vanochtend weer een nieuwe goed leesbare ´kennisparel´ bijgesloten in jullie mailbox. Het betreft een onderwerp waar ik al eerder aandacht aan heb geschonken. Het gaat om zogenaamde diversion maatregelen, in dit geval door de politie, om jongeren en jong volwassenen buiten het formele justitiële systeem te houden: Vandaag dus een zogenaamde evidence review waarin een oordeel wordt gegeven over de mate van effectiviteit van de huidige internationale aanpak naar diversion praktijken door de politie gericht op jongeren. Dit met het doel om zo min mogelijk schade aan te richten bij jongeren wanneer zij wel met het formele justitiële systeem in aanraking zouden zijn gekomen. Wat voor bewijzen zijn te destilleren uit bijgesloten ´kennisparel´ waar het om de effectiviteit van alternatieve sancties gaat bij jongeren en jong volwassenen?


Bennett, Lauren & Elsa Cory-Roake (July 2021). Evidence review: Diverting young adults away from the cycle of crisis and crime. London: Revolving Doors Agency, 48 pp.


This new evidence review 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.

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.

Out of court disposals can offer a rehabilitative alternative to prevent reoffending or reduce escalation of offending. However, police forces usually hit a major barrier when they decide to set up schemes for young adults: they have very little evidence on ‘what works’ for supporting young adults who commit often repeat low-level crime due to unmet multiple needs. This review aims to address that gap, by building on the literature and the practice know-how of roundtable attendees to demonstrate the key elements of support that can be provided as part of an out of court disposal that can turn young adults lives around. It is important to note that this paper was not intended as a systematic review, and it does not include an exhaustive list of all available studies and practice. Instead, this paper takes a practical approach to summarise relevant evidence to inform decision-making and highlight gaps in both practice and knowledge. The primary evidence in relation to diversion, reoffending and young adults are based on the Crime Reduction Toolkit developed by the College of Policing. The secondary evidence on good practice case studies are based on a desktop review of, often, qualitative evaluations and reviews of practitioners and policy experts who attended the roundtables. Taken together, the review highlights practice and policy approaches (in the UK and internationally) that have been found to be effective in supporting people to move away from the cycle of crisis and crime and towards positive futures. It also considers where there are evidence gaps (in relation to young adults and more generally), emerging good practice, and where activities have been found to have a negative or harmful impact on young adults.

To summarise through this review, we have learnt that: As many studies have highlighted, people experience interventions differently based on their age, and related learning needs and circumstances. Therefore, it is important that young people and adults are not seen as a homogeneous group; interventions should be tailored to meet the needs of specific groups and research should focus on specific experiences to support this process. 1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has the strongest evidence base and has proven successful for young people, young adults and adults more generally. The only other intervention that has systematic evidence of effectiveness for young adults in particular is mentoring. 2. There is a need to better understand the different options that young adults can be diverted into, and good practice and challenges within this. There is a much greater array of literature focusing on crime prevention and reducing reoffending, compared to research about diversion. Although we uncovered evidence on numerous interventions, this was rarely focused on 18–25-year-olds. Furthermore, many studies included in this report were international – there was less available research for England and Wales. 3. However, the lack of evidence should not lead to a lack of action. Although there is a need for more research and evidence, the need to divert young adults remains key, so that their needs can be addressed to prevent them from entering the revolving door of crisis and crime.


Het beleid in Nederland is al sinds eind jaren ´70 van de vorige eeuw om jongeren zo lang mogelijk buiten het formele justitiële systeem te houden. Allerlei vormen van alternatieve sancties zijn sinds die tijd toegepast. Deze bewuste keuze in Nederland om jongeren via alternatieve sancties te bestraffen in plaats met een formele justitiële sanctie blijkt op basis van de internationale evidentie daarover een juiste te zijn. Dat blijkt uit bijgesloten ´kennisparel´, geen reden dus om dat beleid te wijzigen.