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Out of Court Disposals

It is important to avoid criminalising children unnecessarily. Out of Court Disposals are ways of dealing with an offence by a child without taking the child to court. There are several different types of Out of Court Disposal: 

  • no further action 
  • Informal Out of Court Disposals (known locally as a Youth Diversion Disposal or a Youth Restorative Disposal) 
  • youth caution 
  • youth conditional caution. 

Within Dorset, the Police and the Dorset Combined Youth Justice Service follow an agreed consultation process before deciding on the use of an 'out of court disposal'. This process enables us to make informed decisions on the most appropriate response to an offence by a child, as well as ensuring that those considered vulnerable - or at risk of further offending - are signposted into support services at the earliest opportunity. 

Below is a brief overview of the Youth Out of Court Disposal options: 

Informal Out of Court Disposal
(Youth Diversion Disposal or Youth Restorative Disposal) 

  • non-statutory disposal (not resulting in a criminal record) 
  • dealing with lower-level crime, wherein the child admits their responsibility for the offence. 
  • usually, the victim must agree they do not want more formal action taken. 

What this involves

If there is a victim involved, the police or the Youth Justice Service can arrange a meeting for the young person to apologise and hear how their offending has affected the victim.  

Youth Diversion Disposal or Youth Restorative Disposal records 

The disposal will be recorded locally against the young person's name to avoid disproportionate criminalisation that would result from being recorded on the Police National Computer.  

Youth cautions 

  • statutory disposal 
    • offered when the offender admits their guilt and there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction but not in the public interest to prosecute. 
    • Youth Cautions are intended for low level offences; however, they can be used for any offence where it is not in the public interest to prosecute. 

Voluntary conditions can be attached to a Youth Caution, to help the young person to avoid further offending. Failure to comply would be considered when decisions are made about how to respond to any future offences. 

Youth conditional cautions 

  • a statutory disposal. 
    • a caution with conditions attached. 
    • may be offered when the offender has not denied the offence, there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and when the public interest can best be served by an offender complying with suitable conditions rather than a formal prosecution. 
    • an offender must also agree to accept the conditional caution and the conditions attached. Failure to comply with the conditions may lead to the offender being taken to court. 

Youth conditional cautions are available for any offence. They are intended for low level offences. They can, however, be used for any offence where it is not in the public interest to prosecute. 

Contact details  

Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole 

Dorset Combined Youth Justice Service,
Ted Webster Centre,
519A  Ashley Rd,
Poole,
BH14 0BD. 

Call: 01202 794 321.

Dorset Council 

Dorset Combined Youth Justice Service,
Monkton Park,
Winterborne,
Monkton,
Dorchester, 
Dorset,
DT2 9PS. 

Call: 0300 123 3339.

Email: DCYJS@bcpcouncil.gov.uk.