Friday, 4 April 2008

Police criminalise young people to meet their targets

The police may have met their criminal detection rate target, which required them to boost the number of officially “sanctioned” detections from 1.02m offences in 2002 to 1.25m by 2007/8, but the charity Nacro argues that one reason for this is that the police are criminalizing young people.

A report published by the charity Nacro says that police are processing low level crime by young people through the criminal justice system that would have previously been dismissed with a telling off. However under pressure to meet their targets police have been dealing formally with minor and summary offences by young people, which could be dealt with in different ways.

Commenting on the report, Paul Cavadino, Chief Executive of Nacro, said:

“For some time we have suspected that the police have been targeting younger children and less serious crimes in order to reach their targets of ‘offences brought to justice’. Our analysis now shows that this is the case.

“Nacro is deeply concerned that while the Government pledges to reduce the number of children coming into the criminal justice system, in practice more and more children are being given formal sanctions that result in a criminal record. This can be counter-productive as children labelled as offenders can try to live up to that image.

“Often the most effective response in the early stages of minor offending is either an informal warning or to work with children in positive ways which do not give them a criminal record.”

The report ‘Some facts about children and young people who offend’ is available as a pdf from Nacro’s media office. Please call 020 7840 7216.

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