The role and work of liaison and diversion pathfinders

The liaison and diversion pathfinders for children and young people are part of a National Diversion Programme to establish liaison and diversion services in all police and court services by the end of 2014.

The key role in this early stage is to help develop this national service and help build the evidence for the effectiveness of the approach (the business case for future investment). This is a crucial role for pathfinders as it will inform decisions taken by Ministers about future funding of diversion services.

Pathfinders are responsible for embedding a service that provides an effective way of providing early identification, youth justice diversion and agency liaison for those committing a formal offence, who have a complex range of health and other vulnerabilities, including poor mental and physical health; substance misuse; learning difficulties and disabilities; needs around speech, language and communication; and family conflict, safeguarding, and educational needs.

The focus is on diverting away from the youth justice system, wherever possible, and diverting into appropriate packages of community support.

Pathfinders collect information about all young people referred to the service by completing an anonymised dataset, which provides information on the profile of the young people passing through, the vulnerabilities identified, the activity taking place to meet the needs identified, and the achieved outcomes. Pathfinders will also be responsible for measuring the effectiveness of their schemes against local outcomes and commissioning priorities.

The pathfinders will also provide valuable information for the future about successful ways of engaging local partner agencies, commissioners and families in this work. All this information will contribute to and strengthen the evidence base that has already being generated by the early Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion pilots.


Funding for the diversion schemes in 2011/12 was allocated by the Department of Health, using a formula developed in partnership with the Youth Justice Board. The amount allocated was based on local demographics and youth justice caseloads. The minimum per service was £58,000 and the maximum £75,000.

In 2012/13 youth sites (both existing and new sites) will be funded using this same formula. However, beyond this it is anticipated that funding will be allocated to local commissioners to distribute across sectors. It will be crucial for schemes to be able to demonstrate their success to key partners and commissioners, in order to sustain these developments in the future, and secure funding.

Funding will be paid in two waves, subject to pathfinder sites submitting accurate and high quality data, which will provide a valuable contribution to the business case for national roll out from 2014. Where there are known concerns with pathfinder site progress, an escalation plan procedure will be implemented which may result in sites not receiving full funding.

Six Youth pathfinder development sites and 33 adult pathfinder sites have been awarded additional funds, in order to test particular components of liaison and diversion. Learning obtained from these development sites will further refine the standardised national model of liaison and diversion to cover all ages.

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