Youth Justice ServiceCommunity Panel Member
Unless their crime is serious enough to warrant being taken into custody, a young person (aged 10-17) who pleads guilty on a first-time conviction will be referred by the courts to a Youth Offender Panel.
Introduced nationally in 2002, Youth Offender Panels consist of a member of the Youth Offending Team and two volunteers from the local community. They talk to the young person, the parents and (where possible) the victim of the crime, to agree a tailor-made contract aimed at putting things right.
The contract might include sending a letter of apology to the victim and undertaking some useful local work such as removing graffiti or helping clean up an area. It could also include activities to prevent further offending, such as getting back into school and help with alcohol or drug misuse.
The contract is supervised by the Youth Offending Team and reviewed at regular panel meetings. The conviction is spent when the order is successfully completed. If the young person fails to comply, the case is sent back to court and a different sentence may be given.
Volunteers on Youth Offender Panels don't need to have any previous experience of the criminal justice system or working with young people. The whole idea is to involve a mix of people from the local community in working with young people who have committed crimes.
Each Youth Offender Panel meeting will have two community members and a member of the Youth Offending Team
The Panel will be led by one of the community members, with the Youth Offending Team members providing information and support.
The Panel will meet with the young offender, their family and, where appropriate, the victim, with the aim of reaching an agreement that:
- Considers how and why the offences occurred, and what can be done to prevent it happening again
- Ensure the young offender takes responsibility for their behaviour
- Increase the young offender's understanding of the harm done to the victim and how they can make amends
Afterwards the Youth Offending Team will keep in touch with the yong offender to ensure adherence to the agreement. The Panel will meet every three months to review progress, and can refer the young offender back to court if the agreement is not being kept.