Court orders and other penalties

Pre-court intervention

Court resolutions

Pre-court intervention

Youth Restorative Intervention (YRI)

This option is jointly managed by the Youth Support Service and police if a young person has taken responsibility for doing something wrong and wants to make amends. Actions for the young person to do, linked to the wrongdoing are worked out, with the agreement of all involved.

Youth cautions and conditional cautions

The police can use these if a young person admits guilt for an offence.

If the police give a Youth Caution they will refer the young person to the YSS for assessment and voluntary support.

If a Youth Conditional Caution is agreed the young person will be required to attend a YSS assessment then complete the conditions of the caution with the YSS/police. Failure to do so could result in the offence being sent to court.

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Court resolutions

Absolute Discharge

The court takes no action other than formally to acknowledge the offender's guilt.

Conditional Discharge

The court takes no action but, if the young person is convicted again within a fixed period of time, they will be re-sentenced for this offence, and the new one.


A monetary penalty imposed by the court upon the young person or the parent.

Compensation Order

A monetary value of damage/harm suffered, paid to the victim via the court by the young person or the parent.

Reparation Order

This order can require the young person to make reparation (make amends) to a specific individual or the community at large. The order must not involve the young person in more than 24 hours of activities and be completed within three months of making the order.

Bind over

If a young person accepts responsibility for a wrongdoing (or part of it) they can be bound over 'to be of good behaviour' for a set period and against a set amount of money. If they re-offend during that time they may well have to forfeit the money or part of it. This is not recorded as a conviction.

Referral Order

For most young people that offend, aged 10 to 17, appearing for the first time and pleading guilty, the court has to impose this sentence. The only exceptions are nonimprisonable cases or if the court passes an absolute or conditional discharge, hospital order or custodial sentence. The court decides the length of the order, between three and 12 months. The young person is referred to a Youth Offender Panel (made up of at least two trained volunteers) where s/he is expected to agree a "contract" based on the principles of restorative justice with the panel and, if appropriate, the victim. A member of the YSS then supervises the young person. The court can make further Referral Orders but does not have to.

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Youth Rehabilitation Order

This is a step up from a Referral Order and can last up to three years. Requirements are attached to this order to address particular factors in the young person's life. Example requirements are:

Supervision Requirement

The young person must see a YSS worker from fortnightly to three times a week dependant on risk for the first three months, then less frequently for the remainder of the order if good progress is made.

Activity requirement

Various activities, which may include reparation, for a period of up to 180 days.

Attendance Centre Requirement

The nearest centres are in Hounslow and Croydon. Young people must attend for two hours per fortnight. A sentence lasts for between 12 and 36 hours.

Drug Treatment and Testing Requirement (16+)

This is available to the courts when sentencing for drug-related offending as an alternative to custody, and requires a mandatory treatment regime with regular testing.

Curfew and Electronic Monitoring Requirement

This is an electronically monitored curfew to a specific address for specified times. It is available to the court for 12 - 17 year olds and can be made in conjunction with other sentences. Prior to the making of the order the court requires an assessment of the home circumstances (provided by the YSS). Orders vary from specifying hours to specific days and there is a maximum length of 12 months.

Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Requirement (ISS)

This is an intensive programme initially requiring 20-25 hours a week of programmed activity in addition to an electronic curfew. It can only be made as a direct alternative to custody.

Programme requirement

This requires a young person to attend a specific programme with the YSS for example, 'CanDo' - a group working with specially trained serving prisoners.

Unpaid work requirement

This is available to those over the age of 16 who would be required to do unpaid work with the Probation Service for whole rather than half days (Reparation).

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Deferred Sentence

Sentence may be deferred for up to six months if the court feels it would be in the interests of justice to do so.

Parenting Order

This may be imposed for up to one year and requires parents to comply with any requirements of the order, and to attend counselling or guidance sessions not more than once a week for a period of three months. The order is available for the parents of any young person convicted of an offence, provided the court is satisfied that the order will help in preventing further offending.

Detention and Training Orders

The order is available for 12 to 17 years olds for any imprisonable offence serious enough to justify custody. For 12 to 14 year olds to satisfy the criteria the court has decided that they are persistent young offenders. The order can be imposed for periods between four months and two years. Half the order will be spent in custody and half in the community under supervision, so that training started in custody can be continued after release into the community. If the supervision in the community is not complied with the young person may go back to the youth court which can either fine, extend or further detain the young person. Longer sentences are available from the Crown Court for very serious offences.