Toronto police announce program aimed at keeping youth out of court system

Toronto police have introduced a program to reduce the number of youth who enter the court system in an effort to give them an early chance to turn their life around.The Youth Pre-Charge Diversion Program will allow people under 18 who commit illegal offences to atone by working with community-based programs instead of facing criminal charges. The program will apply to youth who commit “less serious offences” like mischief and theft.“We know that early, focused intervention and the assessment of the needs of young people increases their chances for better outcomes,” Paul Wheeler, the Toronto Region Director of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, said Tuesday at a news conference.The city-wide program went live a few days ago, and has already received eight referrals, police said.Wheeler said the program will collect data that will help the Toronto police and his ministry “better understand the needs of, and be able to plan for (handling) youth in conflict with the law.”Article Continued BelowToronto police Chief Mark Saunders he wasn’t sure what kind of data would be collected.“I’m hoping that we will be able to collect the proper data . . . it gives us an opportunity to learn more if the data shows there are things we need to learn and modify,” Saunders said.Saunders also lauded the new program, saying that it “provides an opportunity for victims, witnesses and family members to be part of a strategy in turning a young person’s life around.”