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During this essay I will look at the crime policy focusing on what is available for young offenders between the ages of 10 - 17, using the Communitarianism theory to see if their work has made any changes to the way the crime policy operates. To analyse the policy and the theory I will look into: What is available for young offenders to encourage them not to reoffend with support to help them into a better lifestyle? The likelihood of them reoffending with the way the system works now? And lastly has there been any difference over time in young people committing crimes?
Communitarianism theory looks into how communities work. How everyone supports each other to provide a safe, happy and working environment. Scott et al (2009:107) writes "Communitarians favour a social order in which 'the community' identifies the common good, and persuades its members to act towards it."
When people do not contribute, or the community starts to fall apart could this be when crime starts to appear, in which children and young people copy or take part. Communitarianism aims to reduce crime within the community by working with the local authorities to inform them of problems within the community.
Lewis et al (2000:233) notes that "community security approaches involve a turn to the local....They involve attempts to foster greater community responsibility for the security and insurance of businesses, homes and neighbourhoods, through Neighbourhood Watch and other forms of citizen action, though these local strategies tend to work more efficiently in more affluent areas."
This should help prevent crime because local people will know how the system runs. As the area they live in is a close community they will all know each other well enough which may mean they will not want to cause harm to another person who they have made some form of a bond with. However it is possible that groups in the community could work together to stop crime illegally. Day (2006:206) states that "Events in real life have shown vividly how putting power into the hands of the community, especially one that is free to define itself, can go hideously wrong; recent examples include vigilante actions against alleged malefactors, such as when communities gang up to drive out suspect drug-dealers or paedophiles."
Crime policy covers all aspects aiming to reduce and stop all forms of crime. There have been Acts which have been put in place to improve the techniques already introduced, also new methods to lower crime, which covers all ages, gender and race. Crime and Disorder Act 1998, has introduced and updated the crime policy. They have put in place to reduce young people from committing offences or reoffending, such as introducing ASBO- Anti Social Behaviour Order, Baldock et al (2007:570) describes, "anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) introduced in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and implemented in April 1999, these civil orders which can be applied for by the police or local authorities against an individual aged 10 or over whose behaviour is deemed to be 'anti-social'. Orders last for two years and breach makes it a criminal (and imprisonable) offence."
Looking at the Office of Public Sector Information (updated 2009) describes what the Youth Justice Service aims to do for young offenders, which is part of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This can include assessment for rehabilitation programs to make sure they are given the most relevant help available, this could also in relation to accommodation, community service order or other safe guarding interests.
When considering why young people offend, it is possible that a child may witness some form of criminal activity, not knowing it is seen as a wrong act. This may lead to the child or young person to imitate what they have seen. Although there are some children or young people who know the act is wrong, they will continue to do it anyway. It is suggested that from a very young age children learn from others around like their peers, parents and role models. Tassoni et al (2002:278-279) comments that, "some children may not see good role models. For example, if children experience an aggressive parenting style, they are more likely to be aggressive themselves.... As children get older, they also start to copy other children and sometimes school-age children may start to spit or swear."
There are a number of support areas available for young offenders in an effort to help them reduce reoffending, by helping them to face their problems and learn to deal with underlying issues. These including anger management classes, counselling sessions, looking into the family environment to see if there are any areas that could be improving.
There are a few companies who work with local and governmental authorities to help improve young offenders' life skills and encouraging them to engage in activities which help the young person enjoys and may deter the person from reoffending. Two of the many companies are Nacro and Youth Justice Board, who work with young offenders and their individual needs.
Nacro (2010) writes that "We also work with their families, local communities, and local criminal justice agencies to help them support their young people to continue to make positive change." They are spread out in many areas of the UK where they provide suitable programs and schemes, including youth activities and youth inclusion projects, alternative education schemes, restorative justice programmes, resettlement support, and supported accommodation. They also comment that they "work with national and local agencies to help develop policies and practice that will help divert young people from antisocial behaviour and crime."
Youth Justice Board work alongside local and governmental authorities to work to prevent and rehabilitate children and teenagers away from crime. Youth justice board (2010) explains their role, "The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) is an executive non-departmental public body... We work to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18, and to ensure that custody for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour."
Looking at last year's (2009) youth justice board news centre they write about the reduced number of youth offending, this could from all the policies and companies working closely with young people to stop crime and tackling issues which can be associated with criminal activity. Youth Justice Board (26/11/2009) write that, "Today's statistics follow a 10 per cent reduction last year, which means there has been a consistent downward trend in young people entering the CJS [Criminal Justice System] over the past two years. This reflects the Government's investment in the youth justice system, and the work of partners, including Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) who are reaching the young people most at risk, intervening early to prevent them committing serious crime."
Looking at the Ministry of Justice and the Office for National Statistics they show a similarity of statistics that young offenders reoffending are gradually decreasing which could be suggested that maybe the new techniques in place are working well, showing that the given the teens a chance they can turn their lives around for the good and maybe think twice about taking part in criminal activity. However the statistics show a decreases but could there be another reason for this as they do not look at the extraneous variables (something that may affect the results), as to why there was an increase and then became a decrease after a few years. To summarise whether there is a difference with young people reoffending, it can be said that youth crime is going down which is a positive aspect of crime related problems which we face today.
Ministry of Justice (2008) writes, "the number of youths aged under 18 proceeded against for indictable offences increased from 66,000 in 2006 to 67,000 in 2007. This compares with a figure of 84,000 in 2001, the highest over the last ten years."
Office for National Statistics (27/01/2010), this table shows the crime changes from 1997 to 2000.
Juvenile reconviction within one year: by offence category
England & Wales
Violence against the person
Fraud and forgery
1 Original conviction in the first half of 1997.
2 Original conviction in July 2000.
3 Include breach, motoring offences and other offences not listed in other categories.
I have discovered that from my research that there is an improvement in support and preventions schemes, giving young people the right encouragement to progress in life and showing although you may have got involved in some form of criminal activity there are many companies around to help to rehabilitate young people back to everyday life. With the contribution of the crime policy and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 there have been new techniques which are currently showing an improvement to crime control. The Communitarianism theory is in use with how local communities and authorities are dealing with criminal problems.