Headlines: July 8th, 1999

A significant proportion of youth crime is committed by young people who re-offend. In a move to tackle this problem courts will soon be able to use a sentence of referral to a Youth Offender Panel. The panel will work with the young offender to put together a programme of action for the juvenile to follow.

The underlying principles of the new process are that the offender makes reparation to the victim, that he or she is reintegrated into the law abiding community and takes responsibility for the consequences of his or her behaviour. It will provide an opportunity for young people to accept that they have done wrong and make changes to their lives.

Referral to the panel will be compulsory for all first time offenders. The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill containing the provisions for the panel is expected to receive Royal Assent shortly.