Overview of trends & developments
The National Association for Youth Justice has just (26 September 2017) published its annual overview of trends and developments. Authored by Dr Tim Bateman, the report is an important read for everyone involved in youth justice.
In this blog post, I have merely picked out six of the (to me) most interesting trends, five of which represent very welcome good news — the exception is the increasing proportion of young offenders from BAME backgrounds.
1: Youth crime keeps falling
During 2016, 21,372 children received a substantive disposal for an indictable offence compared with 143,600 in 1992, a
reduction of 85%.
2: Far fewer children enter the justice system
Between 2007 and 2016, the number of children entering the system for the first time fell by 84% from 110,801 to 18,263.
3: Most offences committed by children are property crimes
Discussion of youth criminality tends to focus on high profile, more serious incidents, such as gang-related activities, robbery, violence against the person and, particularly in the recent period, knife-crime. However, these crimes are relatively uncommon:
4: Most children grow out of crime
There is substantial evidence that as young people make the transition to adulthood there is an accompanying shift to a more law-abiding lifestyle. Indeed, falling criminality as age increases has been called ‘one of the brute facts of criminology’. In 2016, for instance, the rate of offending per 100,000 of the population aged 15-17 years was four and a half times higher than that for those aged 21 years or older:
5: BAME children are increasingly over-represented in the justice system
A key finding of the Lammy Review was the growing extent to which BAME children are disproportionately over-represented in the overall youth offending population and, particularly, in custody. The table below from the NAYJ report makes this clear:
6: The number of children deprived of their liberty keeps falling
In the year ending March 2016, 1,687 children were chapter 8 Children deprived of their liberty sentenced to detention, representing a fall of 9% by comparison with the previous 12 months and a 78% reduction from the highpoint (7,653 custodial sentences) in 1999. It should be noted, however, that the rate of decline appears to have slowed over the past 12 months.
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