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Referral Orders

Volume 493: debated on Monday 8 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many young people are subject to referral orders; (278099)

(2) how many referral orders have been made in the last six months.

The referral order is the primary community sentence for under 18s. It is available for under 18s appearing in court for the first time who plead guilty. Legislation implemented on 27 April has extended the availability of the referral order so that a referral order may now be made on second conviction where the offender pleads guilty and has not previously had a referral order. Also, in exceptional circumstances, on the recommendation of the youth offending team, a second referral order may be made where the offender pleads guilty.

Under a referral order the young offender is referred to a youth offender panel consisting of two volunteers from the community advised by a member from the youth offending team (YOT). The young offender is required to attend the panel with their parent/s and must agree a contract which includes reparation or restoration to the victim, or the wider community if there is no direct victim or the victim does not wish to be directly involved, and a programme of interventions and activities to address their offending behaviour. A referral order can be made for a maximum period of 12 months.

The most recent information on the number of referral orders made is for 2007. In this year a total of 29,090 referral orders were made. Court proceedings data are not yet available for 2008 or 2009.