Skip to content


Two information and reflection sessions for 10-17 year olds in custody found in possession of class B or C drugs.

Evaluation type

Pilot study
See project

Organisation name

We Are With You

Funding round

Another chance – Diversion from the criminal justice system




South East, South West, North West, North West

Activity Type

Pre-court diversion




University of Kent


July 2023

What does this project involve?

Re-Frame is a diversion programme for 10-17 year olds in police custody who have been found in possession of class B or C controlled drugs, that aims to reduce substance use and offending. It provides two sessions, approximately 45 minutes each. Delivered by the qualified youth substance misuse workers at We Are With You, the sessions are delivered either in person, or online. In session one, the ‘Drug Grid’ is used, an exercise that teaches children about different substances, aiming to dispel myths and provide information on the effects of different drugs. Children are also encouraged to reflect on how their actions have affected their lives, their family, and the wider community. Session two then focuses on the ‘Drug Triangle’, an exercise that encourages the child to focus on the substance, mindset, and setting that led them to this situation.

Why did YEF fund this project?

While the relationship between criminal activity and substance use is complex, there is clear evidence that the prevalence of substance use is far higher in the youth offending population than the general youth population. Approximately 25% of young people engaged in alcohol and drug treatment are referred from criminal justice, while 76% of young people in the criminal justice system report using substances. Despite recent systematic reviews of interventions to support substance using offenders, we lack UK-based, rigorous studies that identify evidence-based approaches for supporting these young people to reduce substance use and stop offending. YEF, therefore, funded a pilot evaluation of Re-Frame to build on the evidence base in this area.

The evaluation aimed to ascertain the proportion of young people referred to the programme who were eligible, identify how many young people consented to engage in the evaluation, examine attendance, retention, and data completion rates, estimate the cost of Re-Frame per participant, and explore participant perspectives of the programme. To answer these questions, the evaluation used an online survey, delivered before and six months after randomisation. 76 participants were randomised to receive either the Re-Frame intervention, or business as usual- 38 young people were assigned to each arm. 88% of those young people involved in the pilot identified as White; 8% identified as Mixed Ethnicity; 3% as Asian; and 1% as Other.

Survey questions featured a range of outcome measures, including the Self-Report Delinquency Scale (a self-report measure of offending), the Time Line Follow Back Method (to measure the frequency and quantity of substance use), in addition to a number of measures assessing mental health, wellbeing, emotional regulation, and behaviour. Key demographic data was also collected, alongside project delivery monitoring data, and interviews were conducted with six young people, five intervention staff, and seven police officers. The evaluation began in February 2022, and concluded in December 2022.

Key conclusions

Re-Frame effectively recruited eligible young people, and young people attended the sessions. Ninety-three per cent of the 102 young people referred were eligible for the programme, and 80% of eligible young people agreed to participate in the evaluation. One hundred per cent of the 38 children allocated to the intervention attended session one; 92% attended session two.
The evaluation achieved high levels of data completion. Of the 76 young people randomised, 67 (88%) were followed up at six months. For most outcomes, data completeness was 100%, and no outcome had completeness less than 60%.
There were high levels of acceptability from all stakeholders involved in Re-Frame, including young people, the delivery team and police from participating areas. The small number of young people interviewed were positive about the content of the sessions, finding them to be interesting and useful. Those interviewed felt the sessions provided a safe, non-judgemental space to discuss drug use and the circumstances that led to them being stopped by the police.
Areas for improvement include streamlining the referral process to reduce the delay from the first contact with a young person to them starting Re-Frame. The estimated cost of the programme per participant was £102; the evaluator expects this figure to fall in larger evaluations as the number of young people receiving Re-Frame increases.
The Re-Frame intervention is ready to proceed to an efficacy randomised controlled trial with minimal modifications.

What will YEF do next?

The Re-Frame intervention is ready to proceed to an efficacy randomised controlled trial with minimal modifications. YEF is, therefore, proceeding with further evaluation.

Download the report