Public influenced by media about youth crime

More than 40 per cent of people believe that half of all crimes
are committed by young people, according to a new report,
writes Maria Ahmed.

The survey of public attitudes published by the Policy Press
reveals a pessimistic view of youth crime heavily influenced by the
media.

Researchers found almost 80 per cent of those surveyed believed
the number of young offenders had increased over the previous two
years, despite official figures showing a nine per cent
reduction.

The report by King’s College, London and the University of
Ottawa also found that while the majority of people saw the youth
justice system as “too lenient,” over half supported
the use of community sentences.

Many believed discipline in schools was the most effective way
of preventing youth crime, followed by tougher sentences and more
policing.

If the young offender had made some restorative steps, such as
writing a letter of apology to the victim, support for custody
declined further.

Around 60 per cent of people claimed that media reports had
influenced their views.

The conclusions of the report echoed a recent survey for
Community Care that showed more than 70 per cent of people believe
the government’s youth crime policy is failing.

The research, conducted by NOP, also found that almost nine out
of 10 people think there should be a greater use of community
punishments for children who offend.

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