The Youth Pre-Charge Diversion Program aims to divert youth who have convicted minor offences from the prison system to community-based sentencing options. This program allows youth to get access to the adequate resources and support they need to help deter them from repeating offences. Toronto Police Services (TPS) has adopted the program based on the positive anecdotal experiences of participating youth. The program is believed to be an effective alternative to having young people enter the prison system.
The program is not mandatory amongst all TPS divisions, and as it stands the decision to put youth in this program is at the discretion of individual officers. There is a lack of public knowledge or data on how the program is being monitored, the proportion of officers that choose to use the program, and the progress of youth participants. Many organizations, and divisions at the City of Toronto (including the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy) have previously called on the TPS to have a proper monitoring and evaluation process that is available for city stakeholders and community organizations to access.
The Toronto Youth Cabinet firmly believes that the Toronto Police Services should not only have a thorough monitoring and evaluation framework for the Pre-Charge Diversion Program, but that the results should be accessible to City stakeholders, community organizations, and the public. With only anecdotal evidence it becomes difficult to identify potential shortcomings that may be preventing the program from meeting its intended objectives. This ultimately hinders young people, especially those that are the most marginalized. The Toronto Youth Cabinet asks City Councillors to advocate for Toronto Police Services to monitor the progress of the program and to provide relevant stakeholders with results to date. With access to the data, the City and organizations will be able to study the program and improve its outcomes.