Lawmakers and welfare groups yesterday expressed disappointment at the government's decision not to introduce more progressive alternatives to the prosecution of juveniles. Officials attending the Legislative Council's panel on administration of justice and legal services said they saw no need to do more to incorporate the principles of restorative justice to help offenders. Restorative justice - a concept widely adopted in the west - focuses on the need to hold a juvenile offender accountable for his behaviour, give him an opportunity to accept responsibility and make amends. It also aims to keep the offender out of court. These goals are achieved through conferences with the offender, his family, and the victim; apology, payment of compensation, or community service by the offender. Apollonia Liu Lee Ho-kei, principle assistant secretary for security, said the government was very satisfied with its existing support measures for young offenders. 'We cannot see how additional advantages will be brought about by introducing victim participation [in conferences],' she said. A paper submitted by the Security Bureau said shop thefts, miscellaneous thefts and assaults constituted the majority of crimes for which juveniles were arrested. At present, the most common alternative to prosecution of juveniles is the Police Superintendents' Discretion Scheme. Under the scheme, which applies to less serious crimes, offenders are cautioned by the superintendent of police and referred to the Social Welfare Department, the Education and Manpower Bureau, or non-governmental organisations for support. If an offender is under caution, a family conference is conducted on a voluntary basis between the offender, their family, and professionals from different disciplines. Clive Grossman SC, who represented the Bar Association at the panel meeting, said he was surprised there was no input from the judiciary and the Department of Justice. He said magistrates were on the front line in dealing with juvenile crimes and would be able to contribute 'helpfully and positively'. Carrie Wong Sau-yee, of the Youth Support Scheme of Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said she was frustrated that the government did not release the number of cases in which family conferences were held.