The criminal justice system is like a manual transmission car. We need to use all available gears to best effect. If we overuse the top gear – imprisonment – the car won’t work effectively, efficiently or economically. Diversion and out of court approaches – the first and second gears of the justice system – have proven to be effective in preventing reoffending and in addressing the needs of victims. They have also had a crucial role to play in slowing the spread of covid-19. The confined spaces of police custody, courts and prisons increase the risk of infection spreading. Prosecutors have been advised to opt for out of court disposals such as cautions or community resolutions for less serious crimes.
This booklet outlines the case for diversion and out of court approaches – the first and second gears of the justice system. We present the data on how often these approaches are used by different forces, and explain what does and doesn’t need to go to court and why it makes sense to make greater use of diversion and out of court disposals.