Source: (2002) London: Home Office, Lord Chancellor's Department, and Youth Justice Board. Downloaded 9 June 2004.

In 1999 the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act introduced the referral order, a significant step in the British government’s strategy to prevent offending by young people. The aim was for national implementation by April 2002, whereupon the primary disposal for young offenders pleading guilty and convicted for the first time would be referral to a youth offender panel convened by the local youth offending team. The panel members meet with the young offender and his or her family to review the offense and its consequences; victims are also invited to participate. The purpose is for the panel and the young offender to agree to a contract, monitored by the panel, that includes reparation to the victim and a program of activity to address re-offending risk. This document contains guidance for youth courts, youth offending teams, and community panel members; it also includes statutory guidance on the selection of community panel members and the conduct of youth offender panels. More specifically, it provides information on referral orders in court; the role of the youth offending team; recruiting and working with community panel members; engaging victims; and procedures for the panel meetings and contract compliance. A number of annexes add relevant forms and materials for the actual operations of referrals in courts, youth offending teams, and youth offender panels.