Under the Police Adult Diversion Scheme, some offenders who have been charged are dealt with in an 'out of court' way. If an offender completes agreed conditions the Prosecutor can seek to have the charge withdrawn and a conviction will not be recorded.
The Police Prosecution Service is responsible for the Police Diversion Policy. It also administers and operates the diversion scheme.
Questions about individual cases should be discussed with your local prosecution office.
Lawyers and duty solicitors can provide legal advice about eligibility for diversion. Inquiries about individual cases will not be responded to from this website.
Restorative justice involves a meeting between the victim and the offender. The victim can explain the impact of the offending on them and learn more about the reasons for the offending. The victim is involved in the discussion about what conditions might be appropriate to redress the offending (focusing on the benefits for both the victim and the offender).
The Diversion Officer will determine whether a restorative justice process is a suitable way to balance the needs of the victim and/or community and the offender, and will find out if the victim is willing for a restorative justice meeting to occur.
Following successful compliance with the conditions agreed at the restorative justice meeting, the charge would be withdrawn.
Police prosecutors will advise if a restorative justice process is available through a diversion referral. In some cases the only way to access restorative justice is through a court-referred process before sentence.
The website of the Ministry of Justice contains more information about restorative justice.
Details of the Adult Diversion Scheme
Diversion is a scheme that provides an opportunity for Police to deal with some offences and/or offenders without going through formal court prosecution. The purposes of diversion are to:
- address offending behaviour that has resulted in charges
- balance the needs of victims, the offender and their communities
- give offenders an opportunity to avoid conviction
- reduce re-offending.
Diversion involves an offender agreeing to fulfil certain conditions in exchange for the charges being withdrawn. The charges are withdrawn only after the conditions have been fulfilled. The benefit of this scheme is that it provides an incentive for non-recidivist offenders involved with low level offending to take responsibility for their actions without receiving a conviction.
When diversion is considered
There are several key criteria for determining when diversion should be considered. Firstly it is important that there is sufficient evidence and public interest in pursuing the prosecution of the case. Once this has been established the following factors need to be satisfied:
- generally, it is the offender's first offence
- the offence is not serious
- the offender has accepted full responsibility for the offences as described in the summary of facts
- the offender agrees to the terms (conditions) of diversion.
Who is eligible for diversion?
Certain types of offending are considered too serious to be eligible for diversion. What is serious is generally determined on the merits of each case. Different types of offences have different aggravating and mitigating factors about them that might make them ineligible for diversion. For example, previous traffic offending and/or current demerits might prevent an offender from receiving diversion for a careless driving offence. Alternatively a clean driving record would greatly improve the chance of getting diversion.
Some categories of offences are serious enough in nature to generally be considered not appropriate for diversion, including:
- burglary or dishonesty offences (in most circumstances)
- violent offences including family violence offences (in most circumstances)
- sexual offences or offences with sexual overtones
- serious drug offences
- traffic offences which carry a mandatory minimum disqualification
- offences for breaching a court order.
How diversion works
The Police Prosecution Service (PPS) considers whether an offender is eligible for diversion. This means you do not need to apply for this scheme.
Each case is reviewed by a PPS prosecutor before the case is prosecuted. It is at this time prosecutors consider the appropriateness of diversion. Prosecutors take into account the views of the victim, the officer dealing with the case and the offender as well as the nature and circumstances of the offence.
The prosecutor will advise the Court and offender (or their duty solicitor or lawyer) if the case may be suitable for diversion. If you wish to be considered for diversion your case will be adjourned for a sufficient time to allow for the completion of an interview with a police diversion officer.
If the prosecutor thinks that your case may be suitable for diversion and your case is adjourned, you will need to meet with a police diversion officer to provide information on the circumstances that led to your offending. You will be asked to confirm that you accept responsibility for the offending. At that time the diversion officer will also explain what diversion involves.
A written agreement will be prepared and signed which will be tailored to change your offending behaviour, prevent re-offending and make reparation to the victim or community. A number of conditions can appear in the agreement including the requirement to:
- write an apology letter to the victim
- make reparation to the victim
- attend counselling, education programmes, addiction treatment or other therapeutic programmes
- be part of a restorative justice process (where appropriate).
Diversion conditions must be appropriate to the offence and offender; achievable in the timeframe and proportionate to the maximum penalty for the offence and what a court might impose as a sentence. Whatever the conditions are you must agree to them before the diversion agreement can be finalised and put into action.
You are responsible for ensuring the agreed conditions are met and evidence of this achievement is forwarded to the diversion officer by the agreed date. The officer will then advise the prosecutor that the conditions have been completed. If all these conditions have been satisfied and evidence provided to the diversion officer there is no need for you to attend court again. The prosecutor will advise the Court that diversion has been successfully completed and that the charges have been dismissed.
Your rights in relation to diversion
As a willing participant in this scheme there are a variety of points during the diversion process where you have the ability to act on your rights.
- You always have the right to seek legal advice in relation to the decisions they make about diversion.
- You can request a review (either verbally or in writing) of the diversion decision if you are not considered eligible for diversion or disagree with conditions of the agreement. This is done either by a prosecutor or district prosecution manager within five working days of receipt of the request.
- You can seek name suppression while undertaking diversion or after completing it. This is not automatic. You will need to notify the Registrar or Judge of your intention to do so and put your case at your first or any subsequent appearances.
- Someone who has agreed to diversion can change their mind at any time and subsequently decide to go to court instead of continuing with diversion.
More about diversion
An information pamphlet is available to help those who might be personally affected by diversion.
Download Adult Diversion Scheme pamphlet [PDF, 64KB]