Headlines: July 5th, 2000

A scheme aimed at preventing young people being sucked into a downward spiral of crime and court appearances has been launched with three pilot projects. Young offenders in court for the first time and pleading guilty now face new style referral orders.Under the scheme, panels comprising expert youth workers and membersof the local community will examine the reasons for the offending behaviour and agree a contract of corrective reparation with parents, victims and the young offenders themselves. The aim is to stop young people re-offending and becoming embroiled in a life of crime by helping them to understand the distressing consequences of their actions and to ensure they take responsibility for them.

Four further pilots will be launched later in the year and they will be independently evaluated for 18 months to develop best practice. It is planned to extend the scheme to all courts in England and Wales during the course of 2002/2003.

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