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Youth crime characterises young people that break the law and who are generally between the ages of 12-17 but can be younger as we have seen over the last few years. Being a young offender can mean that the young people breaking the law are usually at the mercy of the courts and find that they receive much lower penalties than adults. At this stage the parents normally have very little control over there child's behaviour or actions and there for result in the law dealing with the young law breakers, otherwise known as young offenders.
Definition for juvenile delinquency
Juvenile delinquency also refers to a young person who is under the age of 18 whom lacks responsibility for committing offences against the law and that cannot be convicted in the same way as an adult. Legislation states that in England and Wales young offenders as young at 10 years of age are responsible for the crimes that they commit. Young offenders will not be dealt with in the same way as adults and are dealt with by youth courts. Young people that commit crimes may be sent to secure centres especially designed for young offenders depending on how sever the crime is.
Youth crime back dates right up until the 1800 century but the crimes that were committed were very different to the crimes committed today and the way the police and courts dealt with the crimes were very different and somewhat harsher than today. Throughout the years laws have changed and different Acts have been brought in by the government.
"When looking back at the history of youth justice, some people consider the 1933 Children and Young Person's Act to be the starting point. However, the history of youth justice can be traced much further back than 1933, as other commentators regard 1815 as the key date." (open university, exploring the youth justice system)
Nowadays we call it the youth justice system rather than the criminal justice system this is because young offenders (children) were dealt with in the same way that adults were dealt with. Even when looking at the nineteenth century children were still being punished in the same way as adults even when crimes considered as minor crimes today were being committed. This is when the courts decided that they needed to consider that children were in fact different to adults and this meant that they needed to be dealt with or punished in a different way to adults. This is what happened in 1933 when they brought in the children and young person Act. Because of this Act the courts had to take into consideration that children are not young adults and there for cannot be treated in the same way. The courts also now had to consider the child's welfare.
"Every court in dealing with a child or young person who is brought before it, either as an offender or otherwise, shall have regard to the welfare of the child or young person and shall in a proper case take steps for removing him from undesirable surroundings, and for securing that proper provision is made for his education and training."(Section 44:(1),1933 Children and Young Person's Act)
As the years went on two more children Acts were brought in, "1989 and 2004 are both concerned with the welfare of the child. In the 1989 Act, the child's welfare is seen as 'paramount'. The 2004 Act led to the 'Every Child Matters' policy". (open university, exploring the youth justice system)
Why do youths commit crime?
According to Oxfordshire County Council, a report carried out by Civitas Crime which is a group that studies society, regarding youth crime in England and Wales, suggests that every year almost 70,000 youths that are school aged will enter the youth justice system and that half of first time offenders are young adults. It suggests less females end up in custody than males, which shows that crime committed by males is frequently higher than crime committed than females.
ACS distance education has found that research over recent years has discovered many different reasons as to why a juvenile may commit crime and what the likely factors are to intensify the probabilities of youths becoming involved in criminal activity. Some examples of the risk factors that intensify the chances of youths offending are as follows, Problems with in the family may lead a youngster to believe that involving themselves within a gang or certain type of peer group may be there only hope of acceptance within a family type group. Young offenders my find themselves following in the same footsteps as their parents criminal activity or that there is lack of parental discipline or supervision. Peer group pressure, as the younger generation are pressurised from older peers or certain peer groups that they may see it the only way to fit in with the group and are easily led astray into committing crimes that they otherwise wouldn't normally commit. Problems with drugs or alcohol may lead to commit crimes to subsidise their habits. Problems with not wanting to go to school or truancy may lead youths to commit crimes out of boredom. These are just a few of the many reasons as to why the younger generation may get into committing crime.
According to the Youth Lifestyles Survey in the UK "the following risk factors for boys in the 12 to 17 year old age group, Boys who were disaffected from school/persistent truants had a higher risk of serious or persistent offending, The use of drugs in the last year was a strong predictor of a serious or persistent offender, being nearly five times higher than for non-offenders, Young people who were less supervised by their parents and who had friends or acquaintances that had been in trouble were more at risk, Boys who did not hang around in public places were less likely to offend than those who did." (ACS distance education, youth lifestyles survey 2011)
"the following figures for risk factors of serious or persistent offenders; the figures shown were based only on male offenders, due to the smaller number of persistent or serious female offenders in the survey. Nevertheless, the risk factors that apply to males are also thought to apply to females." (ACS distance education, youth lifestyles survey 2011)
Percentage of serious/persistent offenders who exhibited the factor
Disaffected from school
Drug user (using drugs in the last year)
Hanging around in a public place
Delinquent friends or acquaintances
Poor parental supervision
Persistent truant - at least once a month
Statistics over the years showing the trend of youth crime
The Home Office Research Report 64 offers an estimation of the percentage and amount of police documented crimes committed by youths aged 10 to 17 in 2009/10.The method used was to apply data on confirmed criminal activities from the Police National Database, which holds the crucial information on the age of proven offenders, to police recorded crime statistics. The study estimates that youths aged 10 to 17 were liable for 23 per cent of police crimes that where logged in 2009/10, equivalent to just over a million police recorded crimes. The result within the study highlights the importance of confronting crime committed by young people in decreasing overall levels of crime. An alteration was made to ensure potential bias with in the data collection on proven offending related to age differences in offending involving more than one wrongdoer. The study estimates that youths aged 10 to 17 were accountable for 23 per cent of police crimes that where logged in 2009/10, comparable to just over a million crimes that the police recorded. Twenty per cent of all police recorded crimes in 2009/10were found to be committed by young males aged 10 to 17 and only four per cent were found to be young females. Criminal offences involving burglary or robbery were more widely committed by young offenders rather than adults compared to the violent crimes that were more commonly committed by adults than youths.
"Although young people aged 10 to 17 were responsible for a minority of incidents of police recorded crime, the estimate of around one in four incidents of police recorded crime attributable to young people represents a disproportionate amount of crime given that 10- to 17-year-olds account for only about one in ten of the population above the age of criminal responsibility (age 10). This finding highlights the importance of tackling crime by young people in reducing overall levels of crime." (Home Office Research Report 64)
Taken as a whole once co-offending has been taken into account, the study found that youths aged 10 to 17 were accountable for 1.01 million crimes in 2009/10 which was shown as 23 per cent of the entire police recorded crime in that year alone. This shows a large amount of crime committed given that 10- to 17-year-olds account for roughly one in ten of the population aged 10 which is the age of criminal responsibility within the UK and above.
Sharing the estimate by sex it showed that about 860,000 crimes were committed by young males in 2009/10 and 160,000 by young females. This compared to around 20 per cent of total crimes recorded by police in 2009/10 that young males were responsible for and four per cent to young females.
The basic data from the police national database on confirmed crimes committed during 2009/10 showed that youths (aged 10 to 17) were responsible for 20 per cent, However, the quantity of confirmed violations carried out by youths varied significantly by crime type from around one in two (51%) robbery offences to less than one in ten (7%) fraud and forgery offences. The amount of confirmed offences committed by youths for each offence type was applied to the total number of police recorded crimes of that type in 2009/10. This produced a simple estimation of 1.06 million offences committed by youths in 2009/10, which came to the attention of the police, comparable to 25 per cent of total police recorded offences in that year.
The following table shows the estimates of police recorded crime committed by young people by gender, 2009/10. The numbers for men and women may not add up to 'all' due to the missing data on gender.
All 10 to 17
Males aged 10 to 17
Females aged 10 t 17
Number (000s) Percentage
Adjusted for co-offending
Number (000s) Percentage
According to the ministry of justice 2012 compendium of re-offending statistics and analysis, young offenders that gained a low level community sentence had proven to show a much lower re-offending rate with comparison to those receiving a high level community sentence; this was shown as 4 more percentage points in 2009. There was to some extent a higher re-offending rate for lawbreakers who obtained a custodial sentence of 6 months or less than those who gained a high level community sentence, this was shown between 3 and 5 percentage points in the years 2005 to 2008. In the year 2009 there was no alteration in the re-offending rates and overall there was no change in the re-offending rates for those sentenced to custody for more than 6 months and less than 12 months and for those who were given a custodial sentence of 6 months or less.
Re-offending rates shown over a long period of follow up rates by using a large group of lawbreakers between the months of January and December 2000 are shown as, 27.9 per cent will re-offended within one year, 38.9 per cent will re-offend after 2 years, 53.2 per cent will re-offend after 5 years and 58.9 per cent will re-offend after nine years.
"In the year 2000 there were around 480,000 offenders in the cohort. Over 9 years this group committed approximately 3.6 million further offences." (Ministry of justice, statistics bulletin 2012)
The figures show that 26.2 per cent of adults re-offended within one year and 56.4 per cent will re-offend within nine years. Whereas 33.7 per cent of juveniles will re-offended within one year and 67.7 per cent will re-offended within 9 years. This shows that juveniles are far more likely to offend than adults. Again out of 54,108 offenders who were discharged from custody in 2000 the figures showed that 45.8 per cent re-offended within one year and 78.4 per cent within 9 years and for community sentences 32.3 per cent re-offended within one year and 67.8 per cent within 9 years.
"Looking at the trends over time, the two and five year re-offending rates both show a similar trend to the one year re-offending rate published in the Proven Re-offending Statistics Quarterly Bulletin. Therefore using a one year follow-up period provides a good proxy for measuring trends in re-offending over longer follow-up periods" (Ministry of justice, statistics bulletin 2012)
The ministry of justice have released a bulletin showing proven re-offending quarterly - January to December 2010, the report offers crucial statistics on verified re-offending in England and Wales. It shows re-offending data for law breakers who were released from custody and received a non-custodial conviction at court a caution, reprimand, warning or tested positive for drugs between January and December 2010. Any offence committed within the one year follow up period is recorded as proven re-offending. Proven re-offending consists of a court conviction, caution, reprimand or warning, subsequently a further six month waiting period is allowed for cases to progress through the courts.
The study shows that 650,000 offenders were cautioned between the months of January and December 2010 they were convicted or released from custody, this is excluding instant custodial sentences. Approximately 170,000 of these criminals committed a proven re-offence within a year. This gives a one year proven re-offending rate of 26.7 per cent, which signifies an increase of 0.4 percentage points in comparison to the earlier 12 months and a decrease of 1.2 percentage points since 2000.
Each re-offender caused an average of 2.87 re-offences. Overall this shows approximately 500,000 re-offences of which 81.0 per cent were committed by adults and 19.0 per cent were committed by juveniles. From the total percentage 55.3 per cent were committed by re-offenders with 11 or more previous offences which is about 280,000. Proven re-offences that were serious violent sexual offences were proven to be 0.7 per cent which is about 3,300 and re-offenders on the prolific and other priority offenders programme was shown as 5.2 per cent which is around 26,000.
During the months of January and December 2010 almost 93,000 juvenile criminals were cautioned, convicted or released from custody. Approximately 33,000 of them committed a re-offence. This gives a proven re-offending rate of 35.3 per cent. This signifies a rise in rate showing 2.6 percentage points compared to the earlier 12 months and an increase of 1.7 percentage points since 2000. The types of offenders have changed significantly over the years since 2000 and are 33.1 per cent smaller than in 2000, the lawbreakers characteristics show they are more likely to re-offend than those in the 2000. However with rehabilitation programs put in place for lawbreakers, a change in the offender's characteristics can try to give a more consistent view over periods of time. Controlling these changes, the proven re-offending rate has decreased by 1.4 percentage points since 2000.
"The average number of re-offences per re-offender was 2.87, an increase of 4.3 per cent compared to 2009 and down 13.5 per cent since 2000." (Ministry of justice, proven re-offending)
The table below give and overview from 2010 compared to 2000 and 2009. (taken from the Ministry of justice, proven re-offending bulletin)
The biggest reductions in the proven re-offending rate amongst juveniles with 7 to 10 previous offences since 2000 showed that there was a decrease of 5.5 percent and juveniles who received a custodial sentence since 2000 showed a decrease of 5.8 percent, the biggest increase were amongst adults so over all the figures show that there is a reduction of proven re-offending amongst juveniles.
"The bulletin shows the latest figures that are provided with comparisons to 2009 and the year 2000 in order to highlight long-term trends; 2000 is the earliest year for which proven re-offending data exist on a comparable basis." (Ministry of justice, proven re-offending)
Preventions & rehabilitation and the cost of these preventions and reabilitation
According to the CIVITAS Crime for youth crime in England and Wales there are major programmes put into place for the prevention and rehabilitation for young offenders and brining these young law breakers in England and Wales costs an approximate overall total of around £4 billion a year. In 2009 it was roughly divided as 70 per cent on policing, 17 per cent on punishment and 13 per cent on trials.
Youth Justice Board expenditure sat at £455 million for 2010/11 alone. The Youth Justice Board was formed in 1997.A plan to eliminate it in 2011 was withdrawn.
"The Youth Justice Board, an executive non-departmental public body. Its board members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice. The youth justice board oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales, working to prevent offending and re-offending by children and young people under the age of 18, and ensuring that custody for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour."
They Youth Justice Board are accountable for the operation and running of, accommodation and resettlement, alternatives to custody, custody, diversity, education, training and employment, Health, Monitoring and improving practice, Prevention, Research and working with victims.
The money that goes into a young offender breaking the law is as follows
Major Programmes put into place
Cost of these programmes (yearly)
Young offender institute
Secure children's homes
Secure training centres
Youth offending teams (direct funding)
Intensive supervision and surveillance programme
Estimated cost of jailing one young offender in a year (taken from 2009)
Type of jailing
Young offender institutes
Secure children's home
Average across all accommodation
These figures shown in the table above are not 100% certain as taken into consideration if training centres and secure children's homes were charged to the young offenders institute, The Foyer institute consider that extra costs attributed could raise the lowest costs to £100,000 a year.
The Youth Crime Action Plan is another that was put into plan to reduce the number of youths entering the criminal justice system by 20% by 2020, it was created in 2008 with a budget of £100 million over 2½ years.
The Youth Crime Action plan also has many different schemes that were put into place to prevent youths ending up in the criminal justice system such as Family Intervention Projects to show the importance in working with problem families. Common Assessment Framework, Permanent exclusion from school treated as a trigger for preventative action, Safer Schools Partnership and Increased police-school liaison so that schools are working more closely with the police to prevent truancy and so that the police and schools are aware of the young offenders that are regularly seen causing distress in the streets and out in public.
Electronic Monitoring (tagging)
Electric monitoring often known as tagging is don't so that the police are continuously aware of the offenders were about, it is also a part of a surveillance programme (ISSP) which is usually a condition of bail, or remand in local authority accommodation. ISSP is the harshest form of keeping a young offender in one place or being able to closely monitor their movement without having to jail them and by joining community-based surveillance with continuous focus on attempting to tackle the factors that contribute to the young person's offending behaviour, it may result in indicating why the young person may continuously offend or may offend in the first place.
Nearly 20,000 young people were electronically tagged in 2008 - a 40 per cent increase in three years21. Breaches exceeded 50 per cent, either by breaking the tag or ignoring a curfew. Electronic monitoring can be used as an alternative to a custodial sentence or to strengthen the public protection element of a community based sentence. It also includes the monitoring of prisoners who qualify for supervised early release programmes. This service supports and monitors prisoners making the transition back into the community.
Electronic monitoring works by way of a transmitter and monitoring unit installed in a subject's home. The transmitter is a tag the size of a large wristwatch securely fitted to the subject's ankle and can be monitored either by a unit connected to a telephone line at the offenders home or via satellite and GPS. The subject is then monitored to ensure they adhere to the restrictions of their particular curfew order. Court Orders can insist an offender remains away from certain areas or buildings and the systems can be set up only to record infringements of these orders and to sound alarms when they are broken
Home Detention Curfews (HDC) issued by prison governors to monitor prisoners on early release. An HDC is available to prisoners serving between three months to under four years and each curfew can last up to four months. Early release from a Detention and Training Order for offenders under 18 is also enabled by electronic monitoring. Voice Verification to monitor the compliance of a community order, bail or early release licence. Offenders are required to 'check in' by calling and registering with the control centre, via intelligent voice recognition software, on a regular basis. If the rules are breached, the tag is connected to the probation services who are alerted immediately. They call the police. Offenders can be given a second chance but there is no legal reason to do so.
Costs of preventions
Success of preventions
Arguments for and against the types of preventions.
The cost to society if we don't deal with youth crime
Costs if the preventions don't work.
Public perception of youth crime
Public perception of the preventions of youth crime