Exclusive: scheme allows offenders to avoid prosecution if they take part in rehabilitation programme

Reoffending rates have been slashed in a pioneering police scheme in north-east England which experts say could lead to a transformation in how the justice system deals with violent crime.

More than 2,660 offenders who have committed offences such as burglary and assault have taken part in an experiment in which they avoid prosecution if they take part in a rehabilitation programme for issues such as mental health and substance abuse.

Related: 'It changed my whole outlook': how police scheme changed one offender's life

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