Diversion programmes play a significant role in the field of youth justice, as an alternative to the conventional court process, which aim to prevent the entry of the child into the formal justice system. The long-established practice of diverting certain young offenders from prosecution ensures that children are not drawn into the criminal justice system and are not given a criminal record (Goldson, 2000: 35). A non-statutory diversion programme entitled the Garda Liaison Scheme was established in Ireland in 1963, which diverted less serious young offenders from prosecution (Report of the Committee Appointed to Monitor the Effectiveness of the Diversion Programme, 2003, para. 3.1). This scheme was placed on a statutory footing by part 4 of the Children Act 2001, an Act which represents a major reform of the law pertaining to young justice. Whilst a diversion programme has been established under part 8 of the Act which concerns those juveniles who are being prosecuted for a crime, this article will concentrate solely on the pre-trial diversion programme, given the particular issues of due process which arise in this regard.

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