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Responding to youth crime & anti-social behaviour

Engaging with the views of young people with experience of the youth justice system

What next? youth graffiti
Published: July 2010

Aim

By giving young people a 'voice' this study promotes the inclusion agenda, a key aim of the funder, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It also explores in-depth the experience of young people who engaged in and were affected by anti-social behaviour to understand more about their motivations, experiences and what they think would help to prevent young people from getting involved in anti-social and criminal behaviour.

Findings

  • The young people we spoke to had experienced fractured and difficult home lives, and lived within a close proximity to crime. Those who had engaged in crime or anti-social behaviour felt that they had few employment or educational opportunities.
  • Young people reported feeling unfairly labelled by adults as engaging in crime or anti-social behaviour, when in fact they were acting as a 'normal' young person would, such as being on the street with friends. This led to them feeling alienated from adults.
  • 'Stop and Searches' are not popular and the practice is felt to discriminate against young people.
  • Victims of crime or witnesses of crime expressed concern about attending court at the same time as the offender in a case. This may result in them deciding not to attend court.
  • Young people said that custodial sentences could act as a deterrent to crime, but these sentences might also embed young people in social networks and environments where crime is normalised.
  • Restorative forms of justice were favoured by young people. This included offenders mending buildings they had damaged and making payment to victims, so that they could replace stolen property. It was felt this would give offenders the chance to consider the impact of their actions.

Methodology

  • Qualitative in-depth interviews with 21 young people and three deliberative groups.
  • Facilitated engagement workshops bringing together young people and members of the Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Anti-social Behaviour. 

A practical guide to engaging young people and professionals in a dialogue

Executive summary