<p><h3>The referral order</h3></p>\ud \ud <p>The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 introduces a new primary sentencing disposal – the referral order – for 10-17 year olds pleading guilty and convicted for the first time by the courts. The disposal involves referring the young offender to a youth offender panel (YOP). The work of YOPs is to be governed by the principles ‘underlying the concept of restorative justice’: defined as ‘restoration, reintegration and responsibility’ (Home Office, 1997: 31-2).</p>\ud \ud <p><h3>The pilots</h3></p>\ud \ud <p>Referral orders are currently being piloted in eleven areas: Blackburn with Darwen, Cardiff, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Swindon, Suffolk, Wiltshire, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster. The introduction of referral orders was staggered across the pilot areas over the summer 2000. National roll-out of referral orders will begin on 1 April 2002.</p>\ud \ud <p>The pilots are being overseen by an inter-agency Referral Order Steering Group chaired by the Youth Justice Board and incorporating representation from the Home Office, Youth Justice Board, Lord Chancellor’s Department, Department of Education and Employment, Judicial Studies Board, evaluation team, police, youth offending teams (YOTs), Victim Support, NACRO and the Restorative Justice Consortium.</p>\ud \ud <p><h3>This report</h3></p>\ud \ud <p>This report concentrates on the first nine months of operation of referral orders. In particular it presents data on the operation of YOPs, and of the experience and views of some of the key actors in this new development in youth justice: offenders, YOT staff and Community Panel Members (CPMs).</p>\ud \ud <p>Published as <a href= http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/index.htm>Home Office Research and Development Statistics Division</a> Occasional Paper No. 73</p
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