Locking up some criminals 'creates more problems than it solves' says North Yorkshire police chief as £1.4m announced for scheme diverting offenders away from courts

Nearly one-and-a-half million pounds is to be spent on a scheme designed to reduce the number of women and young people being taken to court.

North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) announced this week that £1.4m had been secured to fund the initiative, with hopes of using it to intervene and turn minor offenders' lives around instead of punishing them through the courts.

The scheme will be delivered in the county and in the City of York across the next three years.

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PFCC Julia Mulligan said that throwing low level offenders in jail "creates more problems than it solves".

£1.4m is being spent on diverting young offenders and women away from the courts after being arrested

Intervention will be focused on any child over the age of criminal responsibility (10), young men aged between 18 and 25 and all female offenders who commit, or are at risk of committing, low level offences such as drugs and public order crimes.

Some £470,000 a year will be spent on services which divert these people away from criminality and support them in looking for employment.

Ms Mulligan said: “We know that branding people as criminals and locking them up can create more problems than it solves, doing little to address the underlying reasons why someone commits an offence, and making them more likely to offend again.

“Diversionary services aim to break what can turn into a cycle of crime, with minor offences leading to much more serious ones in the future.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan

"That is why this investment and this approach makes sense, not just for those young people, women and men who stumble into the criminal justice system, but for everyone in North Yorkshire and York who will become victims if their action is left unchecked.

The two categories of adult offenders eligible for the support will be offered help from various partner agencies, such as mental health services and job support.

The support will be offered following an arrest, and those who opt to accept it will not have to face the courts. Those who opt out will be re-diverted back to the criminal justice process.

The initiative will be launched from Spring next year.

Ms Mulligan added: “I am confident that by supporting individuals, we can protect residents, homes and businesses, making our streets and our communities safer.”

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