Whilst the concept of the Referral Order as a sentence for young people who plead guilty is an excellent one, the use of volunteer panel members from the local community should be reviewed as it slows down the administration of justice, is meaningless in relation to what the voluntary panel brings to the panel meeting and is costly both in time, process and resources.
Why does this idea matter?
A qualified practitioner who has worked with challenging, vulnerable and unlikely to engage young people undertakes an assessment which will direct a panel of volunteers to put together a plan which addresses a young persons criminogenic factors (the things that make a young person offend). In effect the panel merely follow the instructions of the assessor, who for every other sentencing option follows the same steps as above however are able to put the plan straight into action following sentencing at a Youth Court rather than wait for a Referral Order panel meeting. Ridiculous waste of money!