Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
POLICING AND JUVENILES
In the case of criminally liable behavior in juveniles, the police assume the leading role in criminal investigations. They are routinely the first official public authority that comes in contact with juveniles. Accordingly, the concepts for crime prevention place a strong emphasis on the police (Riedo 2013; Vollmer 2016). Police organization is regulated differently among the cantons (i.e., coun- try/territorial subdivisions). In some cantons there are specialized police units that handle juvenile cases, such as Zurich and Basel-Land. For example, since 2005 the canton Fribourg leads a trained juvenile brigade that focuses heavily on youth crime. The canton Solothurn has created a juvenile police force that has a preventive as well as a repressive mandate. It is tasked not only with following up on cases of youth violence but also preventing violence perpetrated by juveniles and by adults against juveniles. Due to this function, the domestic violence department passes on to the juvenile police unit certain information about families in which domestic violence regularly occurs. The canton Thurgau offers a further example, with numerous means of preventing violence and a network composed of a multiplicity of institutions and projects in the field of juvenile protection (Vollmer 2016).
In contrast to the public prosecutor’s office, the investigative authority, or the court, the police do not have the choice of withholding from criminal prosecution for reasons of expediency. Police diversion, which is possible in some other juvenile criminal law systems in Europe (Pruin 2010), is thus nonexistent in Switzerland and, arguably not necessary owing to the multifaceted approach of the investigative authorities, the public prosecutor’s office and the courts.
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