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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74216 Find in a Library
Title: Cheshire Constabulary - Juvenile Volunteer Scheme, February 1980
Corporate Author: Cheshire Constabulary
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 34
Sponsoring Agency: Cheshire Constabulary
Chester, England
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This booklet describes a diversion program developed by the Cheshire, England, police which used volunteers from the community to counsel juvenile offenders.
Abstract: Reasons for judicial diversion are discussed, including delays in dealing with cases by overworked courts, avoidance of the stigma of a court appearance, and need for community involvement in crime prevention. In addition, diversion programs are personalized and flexible in ways that courts are not. The discretion exercised by police in England and Wales in deciding whether to report an offense and cautioning procedures are also covered. Faced with increasing juvenile crime, the Cheshire police were concerned about youngsters who were being cautioned, but not given any ongoing help, guidance, or advice. After one officer observed volunteer probation officer programs in the United States, the police in 1976 decided to try a volunteer program for juveniles who had been cautioned in one town for a year's trial period. Police representatives first met with workers from other social service and corrections agencies, the clergy, and magistrates to form a committee to oversee the program. Volunteers were recruited by police officers giving talks to community organizations, screened by the police, and trained by probation officers and social workers. Juveniles were matched with volunteers by interests, skills, and traits whenever possible. Police officers made the initial introductions, but responsibility for subsequent meetings was then left to the volunteer. Because of the individualized nature of the program, it was not possible to set time limits on the duration of volunteer-offender contacts. Although the original concept was a one-to-one relationship, some volunteers were able to handle several youngsters. The scheme has been extended to the larger urban areas of Cheshire with some alterations, such as dropping the criteria that only juveniles cautioned for more than one offense were eligible, seeking but not requiring parental consent, and eliminating formal training for volunteers. Problems to be avoided in a volunteer scheme are outlined. No scientific method is available to evaluate the program, but by 1979, the percentage of detected crime committed by juveniles under 17 in Cheshire had decreased to 33 percent from 45 percent in 1975. Future experiments with volunteer programs are targeted at youngsters at risk and recidivists. The appendixes contain information on cautioning policy and procedures, case studies of successful volunteer work, statistics on volunteers and juveniles involved in the diversion program, and a diagram of the juvenile justice process.
Index Term(s): England; Juvenile court diversion; Police community relations; Volunteer programs; Wales
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