For young people aged under 18 there are three disposals available that provide direct alternatives to custody. These are the referral order which is the main disposal for young defendants pleading guilty and convicted for the first time, the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme which caters for serious and persistent young offenders and intensive fostering, both of which can be attached to community orders. Intensive fostering is being piloted by the Youth Justice Board in three areas and provides a highly intensive programme for serious and persistent young offenders whose home environment is contributing to their offending behaviour.
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 introduces a new generic community sentence for young people, the Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO). The YRO is designed to increase the options available to deal with young offenders in the community with effective and tailored interventions. Under the new order, intensive supervision and surveillance and intensive fostering are set out as specific alternatives to custody.