A juvenile pre-court diversion scheme was introduced in the Northern Territory in 2000. Administered by police, it uses warnings and conferences to divert selected juveniles from the court process. This paper reports on an analysis of Northern Territory police records on 3,597 apprehended juveniles over a 5 year period.
Findings showed that the great majority of juveniles (76%) did not reoffend within the first year after their initial diversion or court appearance. However, there were significant differences between juveniles who attended court and those who were diverted, both in terms of risk of reoffending and time to reoffending. Those who were diverted reoffended less than those who attended court and those who went to court reoffended more quickly. Property offenders who attended court were 30 percent more at risk of reoffending than violent offenders. Further work is required to see if the different effects for court versus diversion remain if prior offending history is taken into account. The significant differences in offending related to age, gender, Indigenous status and location confirm the need for specific responses to particular groups of juveniles.