Getting started - top tips

Youth justice liaison and diversion - intervening early to improve health outcomes for children and young people in contact, or at risk of contact, with the youth justice system

We have put together some top tips for getting a Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion scheme (YJLD) started. These tips have been developed based on the experience of the pilot sites.

Agree the scope of the work with partners

  • Identify key partners and potential supporters/champions of youth justice liaison and diversion.
  • Agree the aims of the service.
  • Identify what the current model looks like and what it should look like in future.
  • Clarify what the youth justice liaison and diversion model will do that is different from other work in an area and how YJLD work interfaces with health practitioner work in Youth Offending Teams.

Set up governance arrangements

Complete mapping

  • Map local police referral opportunities. Do children come into police custody? Are they triaged? Agree with the police where and how referral and follow-up might occur and within what timescale.
  • Map other referral sources. Who refers now? Who else might do so?
  • What other local schemes operate in an area, eg multi-systemic therapy (MST) pilot, adult liaison and diversion schemes?
  • Map the pathway that children and young people go through before and after they come to the attention of the police.
  • Map local health services that schemes will need to liaise with and refer on to.
  • Draw up a plan for promoting the service to, and negotiate pathways with, those not already closely involved in the work – for example, voluntary sector agencies, speech and communication services, learning disability services, advocacy and other groups for children, young people and families, etc.

Identify outcomes and how you will monitor progress

  • Identify the key desired outcomes for the service.
  • Check that some outcomes can help the scheme contribute to broader strategic outcomes in an area.
  • Plan how to measure progress being made (or not) towards these outcomes.
  • Work out how feedback, from the start, will be obtained from young people and parents about satisfaction with the service and the way it is delivered.
  • Plan how, when and to whom outcomes of the service will be reported.
  • In conjunction with commissioners, draw up a plan for feeding into the commissioning cycle.


Recruit a YJLD worker

  • Agree a YJLD worker job description and job specification with a steering group.
  • Recruit to the post.
  • Make provision for their training, supervision and development, to ensure that they are, and remain, able to identify and respond to the health needs of young people in a holistic way.
  • Consider, as part of induction, providing time to shadow key partners or liaison and diversion workers in other sites.
  • Consider attending court as part of induction also.

Raise awareness

  • Promote the scheme to key partners, including possible referrers and service providers, so that they are aware of the scheme and its purpose and how it relates to their work.
  • Build good working relationships with everyone in an area who is relevant: community policing managers, police custody staff, safer schools/final warning police officers, police custody healthcare personnel, Appropriate Adults, the Crown Prosecution Service, Duty Solicitors in the local area, court staff, triage staff and sentencers.
  • Be pro-active and generous with time in raising awareness with possible referrers, including how they might use the YJLD checklist for identifying relevant young people. Involve the police, Appropriate Adults, sentencers, duty solicitors and triage staff.

Get the right tools

  • Review available screening and assessment tools which are used locally.
  • Agree which screening and assessment tools will be used in the Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion service.
  • Identify any gaps, eg in tools used for screening and assessing particular needs
  • Consider how the gaps might be filled and draw up an action plan.

Develop protocols

  • Write joint protocols with key partners, setting out the process and responsibilities of all parties, to maximise opportunities for fast-track diversion.
  • Get sign-off on final protocols by the steering group.
  • Ensure all relevant staff are aware of existing and new protocols and know how to adhere to them.
  • Decide when protocols will be reviewed, and the frequency of subsequent reviews, to ensure they continue to be fit for purpose.

Plan how you will communicate about the service

  • Develop a communications plan.
  • Set up a system for collecting case studies to demonstrate success and learning points.
  • Plan for how to give regular feedback to partners so that everyone understands how the scheme works and feels ownership for the successes and challenges.
  • Plan a calendar for the year, for giving and receiving updates and information about local and national YJLD activity.


Validates against XHTML 1.0  Cascading Style Sheet compliance  Single A Accessibility compliance