Police Discretion with Young Offenders

II.  A Descriptive Profile

This chapter is a descriptive profile of the exercise of police discretion with young offenders. It discusses the main areas of police work with young offenders in which discretion is exercised: the detection of youth crime, clearing youth-related incidents by informal action, referring to alternative measures, or laying a charge, and procedures used to compel the attendance at court of youth who are charged. Special attention is given to the handling of incidents involving offences against the administration of justice and provincial/territorial offences.

For each of these topics, we attempt, within the limits of the data available to us, to provide a general view which applies to police work with young offenders everywhere in Canada, and then to point out what seem to us to be noteworthy variations - in different parts of Canada, different types of communities, different types of police services, and for police officers with different lengths of service.

Our aim in this chapter is to describe the exercise of police discretion with young persons, not to explain it. Our attempts to explain the phenomena described herein are reported in the following chapters.