NYSCP Operation Choice - North Yorkshire

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Operation Choice

Operation Choice – Drugs Early Intervention and Prevention for Children and Young People in North Yorkshire

Operation Choice – Drugs Early Intervention and Prevention (EIP) for Children and Young People in North Yorkshire

Operation Choice is a process designed for referring Children and Young People (C&YP) in North Yorkshire (NY), who are found in possession of drugs, into a course of police led educational sessions.  In addition, further consideration will be given to referrals into drug service providers and commissioned diversion services.  The emphasis being on education and harm reduction.

The overall aim of Operation Choice is to refer individuals to a drugs diversionary scheme in lieu of traditional criminal justice disposals. Any referral is set to take place outside of custody.

These traditional disposals for C&YP in NY include:

  • Youth Drug and Alcohol Referral procedure (Niche Outcome 22)
    • Agreement to attend one appointment with specialist drug service provider (with the option of continued voluntary engagement)
  • Youth Caution / Youth Conditional Caution – referral to Youth Outcome Panel (YOP)

Operation Choice will not replace the above but offer an alternative out of court disposal method.

The current process offers a limited opportunity for trauma informed intervention, precluding C&YP to enter a positive learning environment which would encourage a psychosocial change, needed to address stimulant misuse.  Studies have shown that to promote such a cycle of change in an individual using psycho active substances, up to 7 attempts can be required to initiate a response.

The eligibility criteria will extend to the possession of any drug identified under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  It does not extend to C&YP who are under investigation for drugs supply offences (PWITS).

What information can I give parents/guardians, which explains the process to them?

The parent/guardian will be consenting to a course of police led educational intervention.  This work is instead of getting arrested, interviewed as a voluntary attendee, getting a DAR, a caution or going to court. 

PLEASE NOTE:  Initial consent refusal or failure to engage once in process, will see C&YP revert back to traditional disposal methods.

A C&YP who engages is referred to NYPs School Liaison Team (SLT) and will engage in offered Department of Education (DoE) approved resources.  These will be delivered in schools with parental/guardian consent or another suitable venue of their choice. 

These resources will cover the follow subject matters:

  • Drugs and The Law
  • Exploring Attitudes Towards Drugs
  • Peer Pressure and Consequences of Drug Use
  • County Lines – Coercive Relationships & Gangs

The length of the programme will depend on the individual need of the C&YP and may vary.   An individual who positively engages with the educational process delivered by the SLT, may work with them for 4-6 weeks.  If their case is further referred to commissioned services who specialise in substance misuse intervention or youth work, then their involvement in the process may take 6 months or beyond.

The Drug Service providers are:

  1. Changing Lives (York only) https://www.changing-lives.org.uk/ 
  2. North Yorkshire Horizons – Humankind https://humankindcharity.org.uk/service/north-yorkshire-horizons/

The commissioned Youth Service provider are:

  1. Change Direction – North Yorkshire Youth  http://nyy.org.uk/
  2. Stepping Up Project  – North Yorkshire Sport  https://www.northyorkshiresport.co.uk/
  3. York YJS Triage & Diversion

Referral to the above services will only be done with parental/guardian consent.

NYSCP Podcast – Operation Choice

In this podcast we will hear from PS Heidi Lewis about Operation Choice, a process designed for referring children and young people in North Yorkshire who are found in possession of drugs, into a course of Police led educational sessions

Frequently Asked Questions?

Will Op Choice replace the current youth drug disposal methods?

No, Op Choice will run alongside the Youth Drug and Alcohol Referral (DAR) procedure and Youth Caution/Youth Conditional Caution – referral to Youth Outcome Panel (YOP) as an out of court disposal option.

How long does the OIC have to request consent from the suspects parent/guardian?

The OIC should gain consent, if practicable, before the end of their turn of duty and update the OEL to that effect, before assigning the incident to an SLO.  If this is not possible then it must be done at the earliest opportunity.

Who is responsible for obtaining details of which school the suspect attends?

This is the responsibility of the OIC and should be done at the same time of obtaining consent.

The process stipulates that the suspect will not be arrested at the time they are found in possession of drugs, what does the OIC do with them?

The OIC should return the suspect home to their parent/guardian and discuss with them the option of consenting to Op Choice.

If a suspect is interviewed in relation to drugs possession in conjunction with other offences, does this mean they are not eligible for the Op Choice process?

No, they can still be referred into the process.   

Whose responsibility is it to monitor the retention of the drugs seized?

The OIC will seize and book the drugs into POTF, they will be retained for a such a period until the suspect has begun to engage effectively with the process. They will not be tested.  The SLO will inform the OIC when it is appropriate to dispose of the drugs.

How do I task the SLO to begin the OP Choice process?

The OIC once consent has been gained creates a “General Task” on Niche.  Selecting “Drugs EIP” under the “Officer Unit” option.

Will the OIC keep hold of the crime throughout the Op Choice process?

Yes, they will.  The SLO will inform the OIC once the intervention has been successfully concluded.  The crime can then be finalised by their supervision under Outcome 22.

How long does the SLO have to complete their interventions?

The SLO can deliver up to 5 educational inputs, depending on the need of the suspect therefore it is anticipated their involvement will last 4-6 weeks.

What happens if the suspect is 17 at the time of arrest and due to turn 18 by the time, they begin the Op Choice process?

Anyone, who at the time of the offence is under 18 is eligible.

What if it is not clear on Niche if a suspect is working with the Youth Justice Service?

In such cases email the YJS email inbox for your area, who will confirm either way.

If a suspect is working with the Youth Justice Service does it preclude them from being offered Op Choice?

No, it does not, the Youth Justice Service may feel that the process will benefit them and refer them into the process.  For example, if an individual has received a youth caution for drugs possession prior to the Op Choice process being available as an outcome, then they can be referred at the Youth Outcome Panel as part of a Youth Conditional Caution.

How many times can an individual be referred onto the Op Choice process?

Previously having been caught with drugs would not preclude them from being referred if found again in possession of drugs.   A Niche “Info of Note” flag will be created, highlighting the Operation Choice referral, with a two-year expiry marker.  Within that timeframe the individual may be eligible where proportionate for multiple referrals into the process; the programme of diversion allows for the package to be enhanced if required, individuals will be able to benefit from revisiting earlier interventions in more detail.

What happens if an individual does not engage with the process?

The SLO will inform the OIC, who can then commence an investigation.

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