Police in South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside are taking part in a scheme to prevent young adults from being pulled into a cycle of crime, offering alternative ways of dealing with non-violent offenders that do not involve the dock.
The Revolving Doors scheme aims to increase the amount of low-level offences dealt with outside court, such as community resolutions.
Only a small fraction - between five and eight per cent - of petty crimes were dealt with this way in the three chosen Yorkshire counties last year, their respective Police and Crime Commissioners have said.
According to them, the small percentages represent "missed opportunities" to prevent young people from getting trapped in downward spirals of crime and court.
It comes as the country faces a huge backlog of cases being heard in the courts, with hundreds of trials and other cases waiting to be seen after long delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Humberside's Police and Crime Commissioner said the scheme would "benefit everyone", meaning young people who commit minor offences such as criminal damage and drugs can "become a productive member of society".
Keith Hunter said: “If we can successfully intervene to prevent young people embarking on what could be a lifetime of creating victims by persistent re-offending we are benefiting
"The young person themselves can become a productive member of society and the upset and costs associated with being a victim of even relatively minor crime can be avoided for many people.
"The costs and consequences of the mass imprisonment of these persistent offenders can also be avoided allowing prison to be used to punish and rehabilitate more serious offenders more effectively."
Mr Hunter’s words were echoed by his colleagues in North and South Yorkshire.
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner, said: “The traditional approach of sending people to court for minor offences is not working and often actually makes things worse. We need to be helping those who offend to reform and address underlying trauma so they stop offending once and for all."
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “One of the most depressing features of the criminal justice arena is the way the same people keep being arrested for the same non-violent offences time and again. We need to get upstream of these crimes and divert people away from the patterns of offending they have got themselves into. “
A report by the Ministry of Justice last year showed many petty crimes are driven by poverty and mental illness, with Revolving Doors saying these needed to be prioritised in order to tackle repeat offending.
Nathan Dick, from the agency, said: “We know repeat low-level offending is driven by poverty, trauma and discrimination. These are crimes of despair.
“If we address the causes of crime, we will make communities safer and free up our police to deal with more serious, organised and violent crime.”
Forces in Cleveland and Durham, Leicestershire and the West Midlands also announced they would be partnering with Revolving Doors for the scheme.