Examining the use of Out of Court Disposals for adults with health vulnerabilities

Police officers watching a crowd, photo by Sagar Simkhada/Adobe Stock

Photo by Sagar Simkhada/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

Out of Court Disposals (OOCDs) are used by police in England and Wales as an alternative to prosecution. They are a means of rapidly resolving investigations into low-level crimes and anti-social behaviour in a way that prevents escalation to more serious crimes and reduces reoffending. Importantly, OOCDs with conditions attached can be used by police to address any needs vulnerable offenders may have, such as mental health issues or substance abuse problems.

Following legislative reforms, a new framework will come into force nationally on 1 April 2023. This new framework consolidates the current disposals into two primary options: Diversionary Caution and Community Caution. A comprehensive picture of the current use of different disposals is needed to assess what changes are still required across England and Wales, to ensure that forces will be ready to comply with the new legislation when it comes into force.

How are we helping?

RAND Europe, in partnership with Get the Data and Skills for Justice, has been commissioned by the Ministry of Justice to conduct a study on how police in England and Wales use Out of Court Disposals (OOCDs) to support adults with health-related vulnerabilities.

The goals of the study are to:

  1. Provide an overview of how different police forces use OOCDs;
  2. Improve the use of OOCDs with conditions attached that address mental health and other health-related vulnerabilities;
  3. Produce the foundations of practice change, and;
  4. Improve the data collection methods to monitor their use and enable potential further research to explore their effectiveness.