Devon and Cornwall Police have adapted their existing Deferred Prosecution Scheme for 18-25s and Care Leavers.

Pathfinder's enhanced service takes a person-centred, strength-based approach, which focusses on neurodiversity, mental health, substance misuse and relationships. The service makes use of innovative resources such as a neurodiversity profiling tool, an app to encourage positive engagement and personalised budgets.


A Strategic Needs Assessment conducted by Crest Advisory highlighted the 18-25 cohort as a key area of focus for the Serious Violence Prevention Programme. Over the past five years, violent offences have been shown to peak in the 26-35 cohort. This emphasises the need for investment in effective intervention techniques targeted towards the 18-25 cohort, which have been shown to reduce re-offending and the likelihood of committing more serious offences later. 

In March 2023, with support from the Serious Violence Prevention Programme, Devon and Cornwall Police launched an Enhanced Deferred Prosecution Service for the 18-25 year old and care-experienced cohort.


The enhanced service is being delivered by Devon and Cornwall’s Out of Court Resolution Team (known as Pathfinder), under the Custody and Reducing Re-offending Department. It is funded by the Serious Violence Prevention Programme.

The management and supervision of the enhanced service sits underneath the existing Pathfinder management structure. The team comprises two dedicated Young Adult Keyworkers and an administrator.

Referral criteria

Currently all 18-25 year olds or those with experience of the care system who are eligible for Deferred Prosecution will receive an enhanced level of service (see standard eligibility criteria for Deferred Prosecution).

How it works 

The service offers a 16-week intervention period, but also offers the opportunity for extended engagement. Participants must agree to engage for the mandatory 16-week period as part of their contract. However, they are also offered an extended voluntary engagement period in recognition of the time and trust required to explore what can be multiple or complex criminogenic needs.

Pathfinder aims to promote and develop the pathways to ensure improved joint working arrangements between the police, specialist teams and wider multi-agency partners, to ensure that individuals’ needs are more comprehensively addressed. 

Approach and Enhanced Needs Assessment 

In addition to the existing Needs and Strengths based assessments, an Enhanced Needs Assessment is conducted, focussing on neurodiversity, mental health, substance misuse and relationships. It makes use of the Do It Justice Profiler. This profiler is a cloud-based, online profiling tool, which individuals voluntarily complete in order to receive an assessment of their learning strengths and challenges. The use of this tool supports person-centred, inclusive practice and positive engagement with strength-based activities. 

The project generally also aims to promote supportive networks and provide pro-social role-models, following the Think Family approach, in connection with Restorative Justice Specialist Family Workers. 

It is also piloting a pre-prosecution access to Mental Health Treatment Requirements. If successful, this would allow individuals to access the mental health treatment they require without first receiving a conviction through the courts.

Personalised Budgets 

The programme is piloting a ‘Personalised Budget’ system, whereby a sum of money is allocated to the support or individuals with a high degree of need and tailored to their circumstances. The broad aim is to reduce their risk of serious violence.

The key principles governing the use of the personalised budgets are:

  • Collaborative: the budgets are developed with input from the individual and the keyworker. 
  • Tailored: the budgets respond to identified risks, needs and strengths after a thorough assessment. 
  • Aspirational: the budgets should promote desistance and help individuals achieve their goals. 
  • Community-oriented: the budget should enable the individual to integrate into their local community. 

The service is also developing a bespoke app to support engagement with the service.

The service is operational as of March 2023. For more information, please contact 


Case study by Isabella Anderson, 2022.

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