3 Diversion from prosecution
3.1 In the case of more minor offences, the procurator fiscal may decide to refer the case to criminal justice social work rather than prosecuting the individual through the courts or offering other fiscal direct measures. In such cases, prosecution is waived, subject to successful completion of the scheme. Diversion from prosecution schemes have been in existence in Scotland since the early 1980s and aim to provide support and advice in relation to the underlying causes of offending, such as problematic substance use. In the late 1990s, the Scottish Office provided funding for a number of pilot schemes, which were rolled out across Scotland in 2000. Historically, diversion involves relatively low volumes compared to other fiscal disposals such as fines and warnings, or court proceedings.
3.2 While the number of diversion cases commenced fluctuated around the 1,000 mark prior to 2011-12, they now sit at around double that level. The total of 1,900 in 2015-16 was around the same as in 2014-15 ( Table 1).
3.3 In Scotland, during 2015-16, there were 3,100 referrals, 2,800 assessments, 1,900 cases commenced and 1,300 cases completed ( Table 3).
3.4 Almost 30 per cent of cases commenced in 2015-16 were for 16 & 17 year olds, while those aged 18 to 20 accounted for a further 14 per cent ( Table 4). Those aged 16 to 20 are substantially over-represented when the population base is taken into account - they only account for 11 per cent of the population aged 16 to 70. This likely reflects a general focus on diversion for these ages.