Source: (2001) The introduction of referral orders into the youth justice system: Second interim report. RDS Occasional Paper No. 73. London, UK: Home Office; Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.

In the United Kingdom, the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 introduced a new primary sentencing disposal – the referral order – for youths pleading guilty to a first offense. Consequent to the 1999 Act, pilot youth offender panels were established as an alternative to the formality of the court for dealing with youth offending. Under a referral order, a young offender is referred to a youth offender panel. The panels are guided by principles of restorative justice (restoration, reintegration, and responsibility). They involve the offender, the offender’s family, and the victim (if appropriate) in a joint process to hold the offender responsible and to redress the effects of the offense. This document is the second interim report on the youth offender panels. The report focuses on the first nine months of functioning of referral orders. It examines data on the actual operation of youth offender panels; and on the experiences and perspectives of key participants in this new form of juvenile justice (offenders, youth offending team staff, and community panel members). Additionally, a section of the report addresses matters relating to victim contact and victim participation. This should be read in conjunction with the first interim report, which can be found at this Internet address: