- 16/17 year olds were twice as likely to be prosecuted as 16/17 year old offenders subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO). 53% were prosecuted in comparison to 23% of the offenders subject to a CSO.
- Of those prosecuted in the sheriff summary and Justice of the Peace courts the sentence imposed in 41% of cases could have been achieved by an alternative to prosecution.
- Compared to the police reports for the categories of offenders under 16 or 16/17 year olds subject to a CSO, there was a significantly higher percentage of reports where no information was provided on the offender's individual or family circumstances or vulnerabilities for those in the 16/17 year olds category.
- Delays in reporting or taking decisions when an offender is approaching 16 or has an intervening birthday has the potential to create a different outcome for young people who are older by a few days or weeks.
- There is a disconnect between the emerging consensus that young people aged under 18 should be treated as a child or young person in the criminal justice context and the current legal framework where, for many, 16 still represents the transition from a child to an adult.
- There was a high success rate (80%) for the 16/17 year olds diverted as an alternative to prosecution.
- Diversion only failed in three cases (3.5%) due to a lack of co-operation or further offending.
- Of the 69 offenders where diversion was completed successfully almost two thirds (43) did not re-offend.
- For those with complex needs more than one intervention may be necessary to address the causes of the offending behaviour.
- In 56% of cases, it took more than four weeks to implement the decision to divert the offender.
- Close proximity between the offence and the commencement of engagement with Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) is essential for diversion to be effective and relevant for the offender.
- The average time between receipt of the police report and the completion of diversion was seven months.
- Updates on progress from CJSW need to be obtained in a timely manner to ensure final decisions can be taken as swiftly as possible to minimise any adverse impact on the young person.
- Communication with offenders during the diversion process was inconsistent and often at variance with COPFS guidance.
- Letters sent to offenders were overly complex and contained legal jargon.
- Communication was not tailored to offenders' needs taking account of, any known, equality issues.
Email: Carolyn Sharp