Program gives adult offenders a second chance

First-time offenders and those who commit minor offences will have a chance to avoid prosecution thanks to a new pre-charge diversion program.

“Research has shown that keeping offenders out of the criminal justice system is one of the best ways to keep them from re-offending,” York Regional Police (YRP) Chief Jim MacSween says of the year-long pilot program, which will be administered by frontline officers beginning April 5.

Pre-charge diversion will allow adult offenders to take immediate responsibility for their actions and work to make amends with those affected by their crime through community-based sanctions. It will be offered at an officer’s discretion for offences that include non-violent, low-level crimes.

The program is being facilitated in partnership with the John Howard Society of York Region. The John Howard Society is a not-for-profit organization that delivers programs and services focused on crime prevention, intervention and re-integration.

Conditions will vary based on the nature of the offence and could, for example, connect offenders with support services to address unmet needs like mental illness, homelessness or addiction. “This program demonstrates the commitment YRP has to the well-being of everyone in our community, including those who have made mistakes,” says MacSween.

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