The Halt programme consists of various components and may involve a time period from 2 to 20 hours. The penalty is dependent on such factors as the offence, age of the juvenile and the number of times the juvenile has previously been in contact with Halt.
Fixed components are the interview that takes place at the Halt office with the juvenile and his or her parent, learning how to express one's apologies to the victim, repayment of the damage, a learning task, which may sometimes include a work assignment.
A juvenile who has been referred to Halt, will be invited to attend three meetings. He will have the opportunity to tell his side of the story, he will be given an explanation of what the Halt programme is all about and what is expected of him. The juvenile will either join the Halt programme or will be referred to the public prosecutor for an official report. Parents are contacted by phone to introduce them to Halt, to clarify the importance of active participation in the programme and to explain what they can expect from Halt.
The juvenile will have to correct what went wrong as far as possible.
One of the components of the Halt programme is that juveniles will have to apologise to their victims. This part of the programme often proves harder for the juvenile than for instance having to clean up for 20 hours. It is precisely for this reason that Halt helps juveniles prepare how to offer their apologies. Once the preparation phase has ended, the juvenile will have to go to the victim in person and offer his apologies. If the victim cannot emotionally cope with the meeting, the juvenile will have to send a letter in which he expresses his apologies. Halt advises parents to accompany their child when seeing the victim.
Learning and work tasks
Depending on the type of crime, juveniles can receive from Halt a learning and/or a work assignment that will take up a certain number of hours. A learning assignment can consist of homework, individual educative punishment or group activity. The educative punishment may be directed at the offence or to behavioural change in risky situations.
If the juvenile has caused damage, this will have to be repaid. Halt will draft a settlement between the victim and the juvenile for this purpose. Young people aged 12 or 13, who cannot be held legally responsible for the damage, will be offered assistance to reach a settlement outside the Halt programme and parents will be asked to participate.
Agreements on the content of the Halt programme will be put down in writing. Juveniles will have to sign the agreement themselves. Young people under the age of 16 will also require their parents' written consent. Parents of juveniles aged 16-years and over will be notified in writing of the settlement proposal.
Once juveniles have fulfilled their obligations, the programme has been completed successfully. Halt will notify the investigating officer of the positive outcome and their cases will consequently not be prosecuted.
Should juveniles fail to meet their obligations then the public prosecutor will draw up an official report and will decide on any further action to be taken. The juveniles involved will then run the risk of a more severe punishment than that imposed by the Halt programme and their names may be entered in the criminal records.