A Realist Process Evaluation of Liaison and Diversion Services for Children and Young People

Project Details


This study aims to clearly describe how Liaison and Diversion (L&D) for children and young people (CYP) works in referring them to health or social care services or enabling them to be diverted away from the criminal justice system. We then want to test to see if L&D for CYP works in the way we think it does in seven L&D services.

L&D support people when they first have contact the criminal justice system e.g., when they are arrested and taken to the police station. L&D support adults and CYP in a comparable way. Some research has already looked to see if L&D works, but this hasn’t always included CYP. When research has looked at CYP’s L&D, they have found that there are many differences to adult L&D. An example is that CYP might not be arrested and come into the police station as often as adults. We would like to understand more about how L&D for CYP works, why it works and if there are circumstances it works best.

Design and methods
In part one we undertake a Rapid Realist Review. This will review all the literature on L&D, we will interview experts in L&D and talk to stakeholders (professionals and CYP). This will help us to clearly describe how L&D for CYP is believed to work to refer them to appropriate services and away from the criminal justice system. In part two we will undertake a mixed-methods realist process evaluation. We will collect a range of quantitative data from the L&D
services e.g., numbers referred by the police. We also collect a range of qualitative data from reviewing each L&D service policy and procedure documents, interviewing staff, CYP and parents/carers and observing each L&D service over a few days. This will help us understand (1) what parts of L&D are delivered (quantitative), (2) whether these parts are working and for
which CYP do they work for (quantitative and qualitative), and (3) and for which CYP they are working under which circumstances (qualitative). This will help us refine how we think L&D works and make recommendations on how to improve
L&D services.
Effective start/end date1/02/2231/01/24

Collaborative partners

  • The University of Manchester (lead)
  • University of Exeter
  • The University of Sheffield
  • Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.