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Crime and victims

Youth crime

Youth crime harms communities, creates a culture of fear and damages the lives of some of our most vulnerable young people.

Reducing youth crime and improving the youth justice system is a central part of our effort to build safer communities and to tackle the problem of social exclusion.

What causes youth crime?

These are some of the major risk factors that increase the chances of young people committing crimes:

  • troubled home life
  • poor attainment at school, truancy and school exclusion
  • drug or alcohol misuse and mental illness
  • deprivation such as poor housing or homelessness
  • peer group pressure

Action plan to tackle youth crime

In July 2008, we published a Youth Crime Action Plan, designed to approach the issue from a number of different perspectives. It calls for cross-governmental cooperation to address this serious and troubling problem.

We’re committed to continuing this success in tackling youth crime, but also to reducing the fear of youth crime.

What we’re doing about youth crime

Stopping it before it starts

We’ve introduced several intervention programmes to treat the broader social problems that are risk factors in increasing the chances of youth crime, including:

Sure Start

This programme aims to improve community health and well-being by providing services such as childcare to families in disadvantaged areas. Check out the Sure Start website and find your nearest Sure Start centre (new window).


This school-based programme provides support and advice to young people to improve behaviour and reduce truancy. Check out the Connexions website and find your nearest Connexions centre (new window).

Neighbourhood Renewal

This programme aims to improve community services in areas that struggle economically.

Find out more on the Neighbourhood Renewal website (new window).

Rehabilitation and sentencing

Sentences and interventions designed to prevent offending and reoffending include:

  • Referral Orders – the young person is required to agree a contract of behaviour with their parents/guardians and the victim (where appropriate), to repair the harm caused by the offence and address the causes of the offending behaviour.
  • Action Plan Orders – three-month, intensively supervised community service programmes focusing on education and involving the young person’s parents/guardians
  • Reparation Orders – court orders requiring a young person to repair the harm caused to an individual or the community, for example, through mediation or community service work
  • Parenting Orders (new window) – a requirement for parents to attend counselling and guidance sessions where they receive help in dealing with their children
  • Electronic Tagging, as part of an Intensive Supervision & Surveillance Programme (ISSP) – for the most persistent offenders aged 12-16 year olds, on bail or on remand in local authority accommodation

For more detail on youth sentencing and a complete list of sentences visit the Sentencing section of the Youth Justice Board website (new window).

Dedicated Youth Offending Teams

Youth offending teams (YOTs) are an important part of our strategy to deal with youth crime. YOTs include representatives from the police, social services, health, education and housing. Their job is to identify the needs of each young offender and identify the problems that make the young person offend, as well as measuring the risk they pose to others. This enables the YOT to identify suitable programmes to address the needs of the young person, so they can be rehabilitated, through:

  • education, training or employment
  • drug rehabilitation
  • mental health assessment and treatment
  • provision of accommodation

Visit the Youth Justice Board website to find out more (new window).


See also

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