Diversion VS Non-Custodial Sentencing
Diversion VS Non-Custodial Sentencing

The Difference Between Diversion and Non-Custodial Sentencing

Diversion and non-custodial sentencing are often confused because they are alike in terms of structure.

Both options require that participants are carefully assessed to determine their suitability for the intervention, and both involve participation in therapeutic, developmental interventions.

The same programmes may be used for Diversion as for Non-Custodial Sentences.


Who is it for?

Child, adolescent or adult offenders accused of less serious, non-violent crimes. Diversion is based on the principles of restorative justice, which requires that offenders

  • Accept responsibility for the crime committed, make amends for their misdeeds
  • Initiate a healing process for themselves, their families, the victim(s) and the community
What is it?

Diversion refers to diverting a child, adolescent or adult accused of committing a crime away from formal court procedures towards a more constructive and positive solution.

What are the Benefits?

Offenders who are diverted are

  • Not subjected to a trial
  • They are not convicted
  • They do not have a criminal record.

Records of any previous involvement in a diversion option are, however, maintained. Diversion for children is set out in the Child Justice Act (Act 75 of 2008).

What are the Aims?

The aim of diversion is to give offenders accused of less serious, non-violent crimes a second chance to address the root causes of the criminal behaviour through an appropriate diversion programme or intervention.

Diversion for children (under 18) may be offered either with or without conditions and may be considered in all cases, irrespective of the nature of the offence and whether or not previous diversions have been ordered.

What is NICRO's Role?

Individuals who find themselves in conflict with the law are frequently referred to NICRO for participation in an appropriate diversion programme or intervention by the court.

NICRO also accepts referrals from schools, family members, other organisations, service providers and self-referrals.


Who is it for?

Offenders that are convicted of less serious crimes. 

(Schedule 1 and 2 Offences)

What is it? Non-custodial sentences (NCS) are sentences served outside of prison.
What are the Benefits?

This alternative to going to prison may involve (one or more)

  • Paying a fine
  • Community service
  • Participation in a NCS programme

and will result in a criminal record

What are the Aims?

Non-custodial programmes address the root causes of crime, change offending behaviour and afford offenders the opportunity to turn their lives around.

The Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 and the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 allow a judge to impose alternatives to imprisonment when someone is convicted in court.

What is NICRO's Role?

The court will

  • Request a NCS suitability assessment from NICRO
  • Refer suitable participants to NICRO for participation in an appropriate intervention