Referral orders are designed to help young offenders. They are mostly given to young people aged 10 to 17 who are being convicted for the first time in court and pleading guilty.
The aim is to make the offender take responsibility and make amends for the consequences of their offending.
A referral order gives the victims of the offence a part in the process. This can lead to the offenders making restoration to the victim or to the wider community.
If you have been served with a referral order, what does this mean for you?
If you have been given a referral order , you must attend a 'youth offender panel' to decide the correct course of action for your offence/s.
A youth offender panel is a meeting where the victims and offenders can be brought together face to face. Meetings are held in a controlled environment, with members of the youth offending team and community panel members acting as a neutral party (see the relevant section below for more information about the community panel).
The process at a youth offender panel is as follows:
- The offence is discussed. The victim may ask questions, receive an explanation or apology and discuss how the offender can make practical reparation for any distress and inconvenience they may have caused.
- Suitable remedies for the situation are decided upon by the panel.
- A contract is then drawn up to address the issues.
- Failure to comply with the contract may result in the case going before the courts for further disciplinary action.
Who are the youth offending team members?
The youth offending team members are professional workers who are trained to work with young offenders and help them comply with the orders given to them by the courts.
They can also help offenders with problems that may lead to offending, and put in place interventions to prevent people from re-offending.
Who are community panel members?
- they are members of the community where you live
- they have been trained to sit as panel members
- they work on a voluntary (unpaid) basis
Prior to meetings they may be provided with a report about the young offender, outlining the offence and the young person’s background.