I do feel youth crime is a problem in my area as there are daily crimes take place caused by youths. As I currently work in call handling for the police service I take regular calls from the public in relation to youth crimes such as theft, property damage and public order offences.
Youths hang out in their groups or gangs around estates and parks etc every day and very often they end up committing crimes through boredom or feeling pressured by other gang members. Very often these youths are not caught and perhaps get a buzz out of committing the crimes which lead them to commit further crimes. They may start stealing sweets from a shop which may seem very minor but could further down the line be committing burglaries. The older people in my community are seen as easy targets for youths as they may be frightened of the youths or have poor mobility.
There are many reasons that may cause youths to commit these crimes such as a poor upbringing, troubled home life, sexual abuse or poverty which may lead them onto drug or alcohol addiction. Many children may have been living in many different foster homes or in hostels from a young and when they become teenagers they feel angry, lonely and let down resulting in them becoming criminals.
Task 16. Discuss the role in the community in supporting youths and preventing youth crime.
There are several different roles in my community that are in place to support youths and prevent youth crime. A major role is set within the Police Service who train their officers and show the public how they work with all children and young people. The police have to make sure that all Human Rights of children are upheld when they deal with you as a victim, witness or if you get in trouble.
Young people in my area are members of four Youth Independent Advisory Groups which are set up to give young people a voice and a direct line of communication to local Police Commanders enabling them to have input in the way policing happens in their area. There are many different situations that police will offer advice and support to youths such as:
When behaviour is a problem or a complaint is made by someone.
When you are a victim or witness of crime.
To talk about personal safety ie; fireworks or driving on the road.
In school when community officers visit to talk about drugs, bullying and safety.
Police officers are expected to treat youths fairly and deal with you properly as an adult would be treated. They are expected to listen to you, not form an opinion of you until they know all the facts and to speak with others to help you such as educational welfare or social workers.
It is the job of the Police to try and stop young people becoming involved in crime or becoming victims of crime. The Police operate a Youth Diversion Scheme in my area which helps young people who become involved in crime or are o the fringes of committing crimes. These youths are encouraged to attend these schemes where they are given advice and help for any problems they need to overcome.
The Police also work with other people and organisations depending on the situation for example youths that have been involved with drugs in the community are offered help on drug programmes.
I feel parents also play a huge part in how their children are involved in youth crime. If a child has had a hard upbringing and there have been family problems such as alcohol, finances or drug abuse the child may never have known any better. It is the responsibility of a parent to show a child the right way in life and to make them aware and understand how they should be behaving. Unfortunately this is not always the case as a child may have grown up in dreadful conditions and seen things no child should see which results in them becoming criminals. It is very important however that all children are offered the same help and advice to get them on the right path in life and take responsibility for their actions.
Below I have included some statistics which have been found by the Northern Ireland Home Office in an Evaluation of the Northern Ireland Youth Conference Service.
The majority of referrals (75%) received by the Youth Conference Service successfully resulted in a conference. Most diversionary and court-ordered conferences were completed within the required timescale(s).
Most young people referred to a conference were male (86%) and aged 14-16 (77%). A significant proportion of young people referred to a conference were in the care system, the majority of who were referred by the court (88%).
When compared to similar schemes internationally, victim participation in conferences was high at 69%. Of these, 47% were victim representatives, 40% personal victims and 13% were representatives attending where there was no identifiable victim. Most victims did not choose to attend a conference with a supporter.
Both victims and young people rated their preparation prior to the conference highly. Most felt well informed about the process and knew what to expect at a conference.
Young people said they attended conferences to ‘make up for what I had done’ (85%), to be forgiven by the victim (79%) and to both help the victim (70%) and hear what they had to say (70%).
For victims, the notion of punishment was secondary to meeting the young person and receiving an explanation for their actions. A significant number of victims (79%) attended because they wanted to help the young person.
Findings indicate that not all victims wish to come face to face with the young person at a youth conference. A sample of non-participating victims were interviewed and of these, the majority indicated personal reasons for non-attendance.
Task 17. Write an overview of the different forms of anti-social behaviour.
Antisocial behaviour is described as “acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the defendant”. Ref 1
There are many different types of behaviour or incidents that occur which are regarded as antisocial behaviour. Some of these are criminal while others are seen as sub criminal. Below I am going to list some of the categories:
Intimidating gatherings of young people in public places
Damage to property (graffiti or vandalism)
Nuisance from vehicles (parking and abandonment)
Rubbish, dumping and misuse of communal areas
Using and selling drugs
Alcohol and solvent abuse
Uncontrolled pets and animals
Harassment (including racist and homophobic incidents)
Nuisance from business use
Riding/cycling on footpaths
As I am currently working within the call handling unit for the Police Service of Northern Ireland I am well aware of a high volume of calls for antisocial behaviour. I receive calls on a regular basis from the public reporting different forms of antisocial behaviour which are divided into three categories, Environmental, Nuisance and Personal. The decision must be made on the basis of the call as to which category the behaviour may fall into. The most common used is Nuisance which is very often youth related.
Although there has been a 39% decrease in crime since 1995 there has been a rise in the number of reports for antisocial behaviour over recent years showing approximately 66,000 made every day to authorities. However there is evidence showing in some forms of antisocial behaviour such as vandalism there has been a reduction of 15%.
In certain communities fear of crime can have quite an impact on the quality of a person’s life. The most vulnerable people are affected the most. Results show people most affected are those with low income, are living in an area in physical disorder, are disabled, single parents, council tenants, elderly and women.
Eight police force areas tried a new approach to tackling anti social behaviour and better identify vulnerable and repeat victims and prioritise their calls to ensure these cases receive a better response.
These forces reported that there was improved caller satisfaction and quicker identification of victims. They also reported that by focusing on the harm caused to the victim rather than the incidents it made them more aware of how damaging anti social behaviour can be to the victim.
The antisocial behaviour orders are reducing in their effectiveness and being breached in record numbers which has been stated by the Home Office. They state their new proposals: “We’re replacing them with two orders: a criminal behaviour order and a crime prevention injunction which are intended to be speedier and more effective as well as also looking at the underlying behaviour as to why someone is behaving in the way that they are, so to address some of the underlying causes whether that may be their binge drinking, they’ve got an alcohol or issues with anger management, and being able to impose conditions on them so that makes them very different than the antisocial behaviour orders that have gone before. They are less bureaucratic, they’ll be speedier and in doing so we believe they will provide more effective relief to communities, targeting on the small number of individuals that are causing the problems in the communities and are impacting on people’s lives”. Ref 2.
Reference 1- Home Learning College- Unit 12
Reference 2- http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/news/antisocail_behaviour
Home Learning College- Diploma in Criminology