When a young person appears in Court and pleads guilty to an offence the Court will make a Referral Order unless they consider the offence serious enough for a custodial sentence.
A Referral Order will last for between 3-12 months. If the Court considers your offence serious enough they can sentence you to an Intensive Referral Order which means that you will have to attend 25 hours of YOS appointments each week for at least the first three months of your Order.
An Initial Panel Meeting will be held within 20 working days of your sentence to agree your Referral Order Contract. Your Order starts on the day that this Contract is agreed.
Before your Initial Panel you will have to attend at least two appointments to see a YOS worker. It is a requirement of the Court that you attend these appointments.
If you do not attend you will be taken back to Court in breach. The Court will also order your parent(s) or carer to attend the Panel Meetings if you are under 17 years of age. At these panels questions will be asked about the offence and all different areas of your life. (Health, education, family, lifestyle, substance use and so on).
The 1st appointment – will be within 5 working days of you appearing at court. You will be given this appointment at court, or will be sent a letter of the appointment.
The 2nd appointment – will be a home visit.
Before your Initial Panel Meeting the YOS will also contact the victim. This is so that their feelings and views can also be taken into account at the Initial Panel Meeting. The victim might be invited to attend the Initial Panel Meeting. You will be told before the Initial Panel Meeting if they will be there.
At the Initial Panel Meeting there is:
- Two panel members (minimum) – The Panel Members are volunteers from the community. They have undergone extensive training and are skilled in listening and engaging with young people.
- YOS Officer
You and your family (parent/carers)
The purpose of the Initial Panel Meeting is for you to negotiate and agree a Referral Order contract
The contract will be made up of key areas of work and a range of activities which you need to complete during your Referral Order so as to reduce the risk of you reoffending.
These will be community based and will be supervised by the YOS. If you fail to agree or complete the Referral Order Contract you can be referred back to Court in breach.
It is therefore very important that you agree a Contract that you will complete. Your Referral Order starts from the date that you sign your Contract.
After the Initial Panel Meeting, you will have a Progress Panel Meeting every three months and a Final Panel Meeting at the end of your Order. Between these Panel Meetings you will have regular appointments with a member of the YOS who will support you in completing your Referral Order Contract.