This is an updated version of the report that was published in February 2008.
This report makes the case for a more therapeutic and family-based approach to youth offending, as opposed to the present, more punitive, system. The arguments for the proposed approach appear persuasive - not only on humanitarian grounds, but also in terms of economics and efficacy.
The UK suffers from two related problems that define the terrain within which youth crime is debated. First, evidence seems to show that we experience higher and more sustained levels of youth crime and anti-social behaviour than culturally similar countries. Second, the UK public experiences more fear of crime and concern about youth misbehaviour than citizens elsewhere. In turn, UK citizens are known to favour more punitive responses to youth crime than those in Sweden, Finland or Germany, and are less forgiving of youth misbehaviour.
But this may be changing. There is emerging evidence that sections of the public do increasingly accept that a more welfare-orientated approach to youth crime would be fairer and more likely to succeed than current approaches - particularly if poor parenting were tackled. A progressive policy agenda for crime reduction can therefore find moorings in public attitudes, although the task is a difficult and complex one.
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