§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government have taken to enable the youth justice system to prevent offending by children and young persons. 
§ Mr. Boateng
Measures to enable the youth justice system to prevent offending by children and young persons are contained in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; others are within the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill currently before Parliament.
The Crime and Disorder Act introduces the final warning scheme in place of repeat cautioning of young offenders; new community-based court disposals to prevent or address youth offending and its causes; and multi-agency youth offending teams to turn young offenders away from crime. These measures are being piloted in ten areas of the country ahead of national implementation. The Act also contains measures to speed 86W up the youth justice system and establishes the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales to monitor the operation of the system and provide advice on how the aim of preventing offending might most effectively be achieved.
The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill will create a new form of sentencing disposal for first time defendants in the youth court who plead guilty. Except in cases in which the court decides that an absolute discharge or a custodial sentence would be more appropriate, there will be a referral to a youth offender panel, which will draw up a contract with the offender, aimed at tackling his or her offending behaviour and its causes.