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Assessing young people in police custody

An examination of the operation of Triage schemes

Triage schemes were set up to assess young people as they enter the youth justice system, and to ensure that their needs are identified. Triage schemes are based in police stations and a key aim is to divert young people who have committed less serious crimes away from formal sanctions and towards restorative justice interventions and other services. A key worker, usually from the youth offending team, works in partnership with police officers from the custody suite to identify and engage young people who have been arrested. The broad aims of the Triage schemes are as follows.

  • To ensure that the needs of young offenders are assessed and identified quickly and that appropriate interventions are put in place to address those needs.
  • To extend and improve collaborative decision-making between the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Youth Offending Service.
  • To divert cases of low-level offending away from the formal youth justice system, in order to:
    • avoid the unnecessary criminalisation of young people on the fringes of criminal activity;
    • ensure that formal justice processes are focused on relatively serious offences, and can resolve these cases more quickly and effectively; and
    • increase the use of restorative processes to make young offenders take responsibility for their actions and to promote confidence in justice among victims, witnesses and the wider community.