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|The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
A reprimand is a severe, formal or official reproof. Reprimanding takes in different forms in different legal systems. A reprimand may be a formal legal action issued by a government agency or professional governing board (e.g. medical board, bar council). It may also be an administrative warning issued by an employer or school.
In the UK, anybody above the ages of 10 can receive a reprimand. It is a formal verbal warning given by a police officer to a young person who admits they are guilty of a minor first offence. To receive a reprimand, the young person must have admitted the offence and shown that they are sorry for the harm that may have been caused.
The police will pass on the details to the local Youth Offending Team who may contact the young person's parents or carers and talk about the young person, their family and the events that led up to the reprimand.
Sometimes the young person can be referred to the YOT to take part in a voluntary programme to help them address their offending behaviour.
Once the young person has been bailed from the police station, they will have been given a date and a time to return to a "Restorative Justice Clinic" (RJ Clinic) to receive a Reprimand or Final Warning from a specially trained officer. The purpose of this is to discuss what happened, why it happened and also to find out how the person can repair any harm that has been caused. The officer will also discuss ways to dissuade any future reoffending. The RJ Clinic usually takes place at the local Police Station. The parents or carers will also be expected to attend. The young person does not have to accept advice or YOT assistance. Any activity or assistance offered by the YOT is voluntary.
If the young person breaks the law again, they will more than likely be sent to the Youth Court. This can lead to them being found guilty and sentenced.
Reprimands and Final Warnings are a statutory disposal, created by sections 65-66 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to replace cautions for offenders aged 17 and under. Guidance on the scheme is available for Police and Youth Offending Teams through joint Home Office/Youth Justice Board guidance published in November 2002.