The unification of these schemes is the result of a commissioning partnership between statutory agencies in Wales, building upon the good practice developed during the schemes’ respective pilots.

Annabel Cairns, Project & Policy Support Officer at the South Wales Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and Jade Theaker, Criminal Justice Policy Officer at the South Wales OPCC, gave us an update on how this project has evolved since we originally profiled the 18-25 Diversion scheme in 2018. We were also updated on further innovative practice in the region.  

Women’s Pathfinder pilot

The Women’s Pathfinder was an Integrated Offender Management Cymru project launched in 2013 as an all-Wales collaboration jointly funded by Welsh Government, Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and all four Welsh Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). The Women’s Pathfinder was committed to improving outcomes through early intervention and coordinating necessary interventions to support long lasting change and build resilience. Interventions piloted included diversionary schemes (at point of arrest), colocation of probation staff with third sector women’s services and case conferencing arrangements to support joint working and information sharing. These early pilots involved a multi-agency approach to build on existing practice and provision to enable women and their children to have access to the services they need in their own communities. 

A formal evaluation of the Women’s Pathfinder Diversion Scheme pilots undertaken by University of South Wales, evidenced a 26% reduction in re-offending and found that the overall re-arrest rate in the pilot sites was around half of that in the comparison sites (17.8% compared with 35%). The evaluation also identified significant cost savings to policing. 

18-25 Diversion project pilot

Alongside this work, the 18-25 Diversion Service was first piloted in 2013 with Bridgend Youth Offending Service, with the aim of diverting young adults away from the criminal justice system and into interventions and support, based on assessed individual needs. Through prompt positive action, services were able to work with individuals to address vulnerabilities and underlying needs; then divert them away from crime and into healthy, positive lives. After the success in Bridgend, the first 18-25 Diversion Scheme was launched from Cardiff Bridewell in 2015. This was then extended to all Basic Command Units in South Wales in 2016-2017. A review undertaken by Keith Towler found the project to have had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the lives of the young people the service reaches.

To read the full case-study compiled on the 18-25 Diversion scheme in 2018 click here.

Commissioning Partnership 

In building upon the good practice developed and the learning identified through these pilots, a Commissioning Partnership was formed between South Wales PCC, Gwent PCC, HMPPS in Wales and Welsh Government, to commission the Women’s Pathfinder Whole System Approach Service Delivery Model alongside the 18-25 Early Intervention Service. Forming a commissioning partnership has enabled a significant investment to be made in this area and has demonstrated a solid commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable women, children and young people. Commissioning as one service also supported delivery of a more streamlined approach to custody-based interventions across South Wales and Gwent. 

The Women’s Whole System Approach and 18-25 Early Intervention Service was officially launched across the Gwent and South Wales police force areas in October 2019 and is delivered by Future 4 (a consortium made up of G4S, Safer Wales, Include and Llamau). As part of the service women and young adults can be referred for diversion away from the CJS as part of a Community Resolution. Although, there may also be times when young adults have received a formal caution or are charged with an offence, but the police or others can consider a voluntary referral for support into Future4. For women support can be provided at any stage of the criminal justice system as per the whole system approach model. 

The service provides guidance and advice, signposting and onward referral, as well as practical and emotional support. Identified needs are supported via one-to-one, group based and online interventions. There is a focus on agreeing and working to individualised plans so that people can maximise on the support available during their time with the service. The service also supports people to understand the strengths that they have, to overcome barriers and to take opportunities so that they can move forward in their lives. 

Within the first year, 1,969 individuals were referred into the service across South Wales and Gwent. During this period around 98% of those diverted were found to have engaged positively in the support provided by the service. It was also identified that 84% of voluntary referrals also engaged positively with support.

An evaluation of the Women’s Pathfinder Whole System Approach and 18-25 Early Intervention Service is being undertaken by Cordis Bright. This evaluation will provide information about what works, with who, when, why and how. The final report is due for publication in February 2021 and is expected to inform onward delivery. It is also anticipated that the evaluation will inform future funding decisions as well as the broader direction of female offending, youth justice and youth to adult transition policy in Wales; for example, in relation to the implementation of the joint Welsh Government and Ministry of Justice Female Offending & Youth Justice Blueprints. 

The first year of service delivery has been heavily influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic and Future4 have been responsive in adapting service delivery and utilising new approaches. This has ensured that women and young adults in crisis have continued to receive the necessary support they require during a very difficult time. The service has also continued to identify opportunities for innovation, including supporting young women transitioning from youth to adult services and also a new Revolving Door pilot which has been developed to address the needs of repeat offenders who commit offences categorised as low level.

Further Innovation 
Revolving Door pilot 

The aim of the Out of Court Disposal Revolving Door pilot will be to develop a targeted approach to those who have committed a number of low-level offences and where there is potential risk of offending behaviour escalating. This approach will look to establish early intervention and prevention pathways that recognise multiple needs and look to reduce further offending. 

This is being seen as a ‘Discovery Pilot’ in that it will look to build on the good practice already developed through existing early intervention initiatives. The learning from this pilot can also be used to inform development of future services that will work with those who commit frequent low-level crime. Many of those expected to be referred may have missed out on the chance to access early intervention initiatives to support them and address their offending behaviour and now form a large part of the ‘revolving door’. 

Ultimately by taking a harm reduction approach and providing a community outreach response to crises, the pilot will seek to support individuals in addressing the causes of their offending behaviour. The pilot is a joint initiative involving South Wales Police, South Wales Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Gwent Police, Gwent Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, HMPPS and Future4. The Revolving Door pilot was launched in July 2021 and will operate until the 30th of September 2022.

Young Female Transition pilot

The Women’s Pathfinder Whole System Approach and Safer Wales inclusive Service (SWIS) are working in partnership to pilot joint support to young females aged 17 involved in the Youth Offending Service and/or who are considered vulnerable to, or have experienced child sexual exploitation or criminal exploitation. The pilot engages the young people on a voluntary basis.

For those referred, the intervention will be needs-led and will include:  

  • Value base of building strong relationships between the young people and the youth workers. This increases resilience factors, aids the depth and frequency of issue-based conversations and helps model trusting relationships. 
  • Working alongside young people and helping them to review choices and consequences; reset personal goals and refocus; supporting them to understand the strengths that they have to overcome barriers and to take opportunities so that they can move forward more confidently.
  • Baseline assessment completed via the Teen Star Outcome Chart, which will inform the action plan and the targeted intervention.
  • The young person's wellbeing is prioritised and in practical terms that can mean engaging in activities that are practical life skills; nurturing activities for the young person; or fun activities. The services will work with partner services to ensure support is streamlined where possible and support the young person in accessing community services. 
  • Helping the young person to access the support they need to avoid further involvement in the criminal justice system.

Staff working on this pilot have been trained in trauma informed approaches and Adverse Childhood Experiences. Safer Wales have a value base that prioritises supporting staff members to put these principles into practice. This is currently being piloted in areas across South Wales and Gwent (Cardiff, Cwm Taf, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent). 

For more information, please bring any queries to the attention of Jade Theaker at 


This case-study was compiled by Jason Watt in 2021

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