Source: (2006) Papers presented at the Fourth Conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice, “Restorative justice: An agenda for Europe”, Barcelona, Spain, 15-17 June 2006.

This paper reports the findings of a study of young offenders referred to three Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) in the UK. In two of these YOTS, young people are subject to restorative interventions following their first or second offence, whereas in the third, Northamptonshire, they are dealt with informally for a first offence and by a simple warning for the second. Earlier research undertaken in Northamptonshire compared differences in outcome, measured in terms of re-conviction, before and after the implementation of the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), which formalised interventions with young offenders and required that they become involved in restorative interventions at an early stage in the ‘criminal career’. The findings indicated that one effect of the changes ushered in by the 1998 Act was to increase prosecutions by 22% and formal pre-court referrals by 13%. Overall, it appeared that the 1998 reforms had increased the annual throughput of Northamptonshire YOT by 35%. The researchers expressed concern that this posed a potential threat to the good practice, which had generated low pre-1998 Act re-conviction rates. These findings led Northamptonshire YOT to institute an, essentially illegal, element of informalism into their system. The research reported here compares outcomes in the the Northants YOT, in the two years to January 2006, with those in two other YOTs, where the legislation has been fully implemented and first- and second-time offenders are subject to restorative interventions. (author's abstract)