Source: (2008) Newsletter of the European Forum for Restorative Justice. 9(2): 5-7.

The most explicitly restorative of your justice reforms in England and Wales is the referral order, introduced into legislation by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Presser and Van Voorhis (2002) point to relationship building as a key part of the process if restorative programmes are to achieve the outcomes of restoration and social well being. If positive relationships are to be achieved, McCold and Wachtel (2002) stress how important it is in restorative conferencing for panel members and supporters to include those people from the local community whom young people feel they respect, and by whom they can feel they are respected. With this in mind and drawing on data gathered from observations and semi-structured interviews wtih youth justice professionals, voluntary community panel members and young people who were undertaking a referral order, I explored the interaction between voluntary community panel members and young people referred to the panels. In particular, I explored how the age and gender of panel members and the process of following through contract agreements might affect the relationship building between these stakeholders. In this article, I also describe how the youth justice professionals with whom I had built a research relationship received my findings. (excerpt)