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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful for the response from the noble Lords, Lord Roper and Lord Cope of Berkeley. I indicate to the noble Lord, Lord Roper, that we expect the reduction in the number of referral orders to be about 10 per cent. As regards the point emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, we expect guidance to be given to magistrates, recognising the flexibility but in no way, shape or form changing the nature of referral orders and their general use for under 18s who have committed a first offence and pleaded guilty.
While recognising that emphasis, I want to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that it can be a most salutary lesson for the perpetrator of the crime to come face to face with his victims. However, it would be wrong for any pressure to be put upon victims to play their part. If they are willing to do so, we have no doubt that it will contribute significantly to the young person's awareness of the consequences of his crime. It would be wrong for pressure to be put upon victims and they contribute only if they want to do so. As we gain experience, people may begin to realise the valuable role which victims can play in restorative justice.
I emphasise that there is no question of the regulations being a soft option. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, is right in saying that they should not be. They are designed to provide an improved opportunity for those who have committed crime to realise the consequences of their actions. However, we hope that they will result in a reduction of the recommittal of offences, for which we all strive, particularly for first-time offenders. That is why the regulations apply directly to them. I commend them to the House.
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