Source: (2001) RDS Occasional Paper No. 70. 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 first interim report on the operations of the youth offender panels. The report presents the results of an evaluation of the first phase of the pilots. It covers the recruitment of staff and community panel members; the first training program; the views of Youth Court clerks and magistrates; and initial experiences coming out of the panels. This first report should be read in conjunction with the second interim report, which can be found at this Internet address: