Get in early
By no means all young people commit crime. When they are bored, disadvantaged and
estranged from their parents, the vast majority don’t commit crime. Even when their
friends do so, most young people still stay away from crime.
The key is spotting the minority of young people who are most likely to get into trouble.
The gateways to future criminal behaviour are well known. They include antisocial
behaviour, personal victimisation, alcohol misuse, involvement with drugs, and having
close friends and siblings who are in trouble. Some young people, having shown signs of
criminal behaviour and struggled at school, come to think as they get older that offending
is acceptable and become set on a life of crime.
To steer young people away from crime we need a balance of measures. We must
combine police enforcement with programmes that target young people who are most
likely to offend. Working with parents, the police, schools and youth offending teams, we
must build a ring of confidence around young people - providing positive role models,
teaching them to develop constructive relationships, getting them back into education,
tackling drug and alcohol misuse, and offering them a sustainable future which does not
involve crime. By the time a young person takes a gun or a knife on to the streets or joins
a gang, it’s often too late.
Getting in early with the most troubled young people is money well spent. It prevents
future victims and safeguards the future of our neighbourhoods. It offers young people the
chance to contribute to, rather than to just take from, their communities.