Youth Crime in the United Kingdom

Introduction and Rationale

Youth crime or juvenile offense is one of the significant problems of the criminal justice system. Unlawful behavior of minors has had a high prevalence and obtained particular attention from researchers and academics involved in investigating the causes, manifestations, and possible solutions to youth crime (Densley et al., 2020). Considered delinquency, juvenile offenses have entered the legal system with a set of age-specific considerations in terms of correctional measures and prevention, which led to the launching of multiple anti-youth crime programs in developed countries around the world (Hobson et al., 2021). However, the effectiveness of such preventative interventions is inconsistent without the application of an in-depth investigation of the underlying factors contributing to the occurrence of youth delinquency (“Council pledges,” 2019). Indeed, research shows that “young adolescents with disruptive and delinquent behavior, showing multiple risk factors, need constructive change-oriented treatment” (De Vries et al., 2018, p. 3640). Therefore, it is essential to identify the causes of youth crime to inform effective solutions to this problem in the future.

The research area for the proposed research study is Croydon, United Kingdom. This borough is considered to have a relatively high youth crime incidence, with the most significant rate of juvenile offenses across all London boroughs (Matthews, 2017). Indeed, the statistics for Croydon indicate that “in Croydon, there were 313 recorded victims of serious youth violence, classed over the past 12 months, more victims than any other outer London borough” (Matthews, 2017, para. 3). Moreover, youth crime is more prevalent in urban areas in comparison to rural locations, which is proven by multiple research studies (Allen, 2022; Anderson, 2019; Bobbio et al., 2020; Zhao & Tang, 2018). Therefore, it is important to investigate the particularities of juvenile offenses in Croydon to inform location-specific solutions and preventative measures in the future.

Overall, the review of the statistical data on the prevalence of youth crime in the United Kingdom shows a steady decline; however, the incidents of this problem are still frequent. Indeed, in 2020-2021, there were “15,800 children were cautioned or sentenced, 3,500 proven knife and offensive weapon offences were committed by children, 8,800 first time entrants to the youth justice system” (Youth Justice Board, 2022). Given the high level of youth crime rates in Croydon Borough, the rationale for this research is the urgent need to clarify and update the causes and underlying factors leading to juvenile delinquency. Since such crimes impede human life and wellness by risking the lives of victims and triggering criminal youth’s reoffending, it is essential to deepen research efforts in this area to ensure public safety and well-being.

Literature Review

Binik, O., Ceretti, A., Cornelli, R., Schadee, H., Verde, A., & Gatti, U. (2019). Neighborhood social capital, juvenile delinquency, and victimization: Results from the international self-report delinquency study-3 in 23 countries. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 25(3), 241-258.

This research study aimed to identify the connection between the social environment and the tendency of youth to commit crimes. The study used a mixed design integrating quantitative measures and qualitative interpretation of findings. The data were collected using the method of self-reported surveys with school students in 23 countries. The study used an analytical approach to interpret the data from a temporal perspective and identified a positive dependence between social capital and juvenile delinquency. Indeed, the researchers proved that neighborhoods with steady social capital could provide protective effects on juveniles, lowering the risks of crime (Binik et al., 2019). Thus, the research study’s strength is its scope which includes respondents from 23 countries.

As for the weaknesses of this research article, one might state that the lack of country-specific detection of contributing factors might be considered. Indeed, without proper clarification of issues about particular geographically or culturally predetermined criminal intentions, the study lacks specific practical guidelines. The research gap that one might identify in this study is the lack of proper solution-oriented instruction for implementation. Thus, the identified weaknesses and gaps allow for justifying the proposed research study, which intends to identify Croydon-specific youth crime causes, focusing on the implications of these data on problem-solving efforts.

Gearhart, M. C., & Tucker, R. (2020). Criminogenic risk, criminogenic need, collective efficacy, and juvenile delinquency. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 47(9), 1116-1135.

This article is a research study that investigates the reasons for juvenile delinquency, focusing on the collective efficacy theory. The authors of this research used a survey method to collect self-reported data during interviews with 3,575 US-residing mothers of adolescents not younger than 13 years with a history of youth crime (Gearhart & Tucker, 2020). The researchers hypothesized that high criminogenic risks would lead to a higher likelihood of juvenile offense. The criminogenic risks included “lower levels of school satisfaction, poor academic performance, and limited parental closeness; and more procriminal attitudes, disorder in the home, impulsivity, substance use, and prior delinquency” (Gearhart & Tucker, 2020, p. 1122). The study found that individual-level factors of risks are more influential in predetermining the intentions to commit crimes in youth and collective-level factors.

Although the study was conducted with a US-based sample, its implications are generalizable. The research article’s strength is its large sample and accuracy of findings pertaining to the evidence-based explanation of the causes of youth crime. The study’s weakness is its self-reported nature which might imply subjective and biased data. The gap in the study is its lack of tying the risks to the geographical location, which should be considered given the influence of the environment on human behavioral decision-making. Therefore, this study justifies the initiation of the proposed study on youth crime in Croydon to determine area-specific causes of juvenile delinquency in both individual and environment-based domains.

Haylock, S., Boshari, T., Alexander, E. C., Kumar, A., Manikam, L., & Pinder, R. (2020). Risk factors associated with knife crime in the United Kingdom among young people aged 10–24 years: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1-19.

This research article was conducted to study the risk factors contributing to the emergence of youth crime in the United Kingdom. The researchers used the systematic review method to investigate the reported evidence of recently published academic studies on the triggers of youth crime in individuals ages 10-24 years. The findings showed that mental health issues and the tendency of teenagers with adverse childhood experiences were associated with a higher delinquency level in youth (Haylock et al., 2020). The study’s strength is its identification of holistic factors with the introduction of gang formation as a type of youth crime specific to this population.

However, the study’s weakness is its limited focus on knife crimes which does not allow for generalizing the findings to other types of crime. The research gap of this study is its large scope in terms of the age of the investigated population, which includes youth from 10 to 24 years old. Since there might be significant risk factor differences between four youth of different ages, there is a need to focus on the differences between the younger teenagers and older youth. Thus, such a gap justifies the launching of the proposed research study to determine if there is a difference in risk factors for the youth of different ages.

Aim and Objectives

This research study is suggested as a scholarly effort to deepen understanding of the causes of youth crime. This knowledge will be essential for updating and improving preventative measures and solutions for minimizing juvenile offense rates. Given the lack of proper research efforts made within the scope of Croydon as an area with a particularly high level of youth delinquency, this study aims to fill the research gap by collecting and interpreting reliable data. The aim, objectives, and research questions relevant to this study align with the methodology and the requirement of building informed policies for youth crime prevention. Identifying area-specific causes will allow for the implementation of effective measures capable of minimizing crime rates in a long-term perspective. Moreover, comparing risk factors for the youth of different ages will help develop more precise age-directed preventative measures.


  • This proposed study aims to understand why youth aged 13-17 years are more susceptible to crime.


  • To investigate social determinants of youth crime in Croydon Borough;
  • To identify psychological determinants of youth crime in Croydon Borough;
  • To compare risk factors for youth aged 13-17 with those of 18-24-year-olds

Research questions:

  • RQ1: What causes youth crime?
  • RQ2: Are psychological factors prevalent over social determinants of juvenile delinquency?
  • RQ3: What is the difference in youth crime risk factors between a 13-17-year-old and an 18-24-year old population?

Proposed Methodology and Methods

To conduct the proposed study, one should use a correlational design to compare the causes of youth crime in the age group of 13-17-year-olds and 18-24-year-olds in Croydon. A descriptive correlational design will be used to observe and interpret the risk factors experienced by the youth prone to crime without altering the variables (Siedlecki, 2020). The proposed study’s research methodology aligns with the research aim and goals and prioritizes improving understanding of the problem of teenage pregnancy. To collect the data from a sample of youth aged 13-24, a survey method will be used (Nayak & Narayan, 2019). The non-probability sampling approach will allow recruiting participants with a criminal history and of appropriate age residing in Croydon. A mixed approach will be used to collect and conduct a comparative analysis of the quantitative survey data and interpret the difference in risk factors in a qualitative manner (Blackstone, 2018). The data will be presented via tables and diagrams showing the differences in responses and identified risk factors between the age groups. The validity and credibility of the study will be based on theoretical triangulation.

Practicalities and Ethical Considerations

The planned study might have a weakness of reported data bias due to the self-reported nature of the inquiry. However, since the study investigates perceived factors, this limitation will not hinder the generalizability of the findings. To preserve the ethical principles of research, one will obtain written informed consent from the participants (Sellers & Arrigo, 2022). Given the research problem’s sensitivity and the minors’ involvement, the rules of privacy and confidentiality will be strictly followed.

Significance of Research

The significance of the proposed research is related to its focus on a relatively small geographical area. Its focus on the causes of juvenile delinquency and age-specific risk factors will likely inform precise decisions for preventing and mitigating youth crime in Croydon. Ultimately, such evidence will help minimize crime rates, improve social standards, and promote child well-being in general. Overall, the evidence produced by the planned study will benefit the general public by contributing to the policy-making for crime prevention.


In conclusion, this proposal has introduced the rationale for investigating the causes of youth crime by 13-17-year-olds in Croydon. The high rates of juvenile offenders in this area and the relative ineffectiveness of currently implemented policies justify the need to focus on this area. Moreover, the identified literature gaps suggest limited evidence on area-specific and age-specific determinants and risk factors. Thus, the proposed descriptive correlational study using self-reported surveys for youth aged 13-24 will allow for detecting differences in different age groups’ risk for crime to inform preventative measures for endured public well-being and safety.


Allen, M. (2022). Trends in firearm-related violent crime in Canada, 2009 to 2020. Juristat: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 85, 1-51.

Anderson, B. (2019). Youth crime and the politics of prevention. In Youth Justice: Contemporary Policy and Practice (pp. 75-90). Routledge.

Binik, O., Ceretti, A., Cornelli, R., Schadee, H., Verde, A., & Gatti, U. (2019). Neighborhood social capital, juvenile delinquency, and victimization: Results from the international self-report delinquency study-3 in 23 countries. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 25(3), 241-258.

Blackstone, A. (2018). Principles of sociological inquiry: Qualitative and quantitative methods. Saylor Academy Open Textbooks.

Bobbio, A., Arbach, K., & Illescas, S. R. (2020). Juvenile delinquency risk factors: Individual, social, opportunity, or all of these together? International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 62, 100388.

Council pledges groundbreaking study will shape future of children and young people’s services. (2019). Your Croydon.

Densley, J., Deuchar, R., & Harding, S. (2020). An introduction to gangs and serious youth violence in the United Kingdom. Youth Justice, 20(1-2), 3-10.

De Vries, S. L., Hoeve, M., Asscher, J. J., & Stams, G. J. J. (2018). The long-term effects of the youth crime prevention program “New Perspectives” on delinquency and recidivism. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 62(12), 3639-3661.

Gearhart, M. C., & Tucker, R. (2020). Criminogenic risk, criminogenic need, collective efficacy, and juvenile delinquency. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 47(9), 1116-1135.

Haylock, S., Boshari, T., Alexander, E. C., Kumar, A., Manikam, L., & Pinder, R. (2020). Risk factors associated with knife-crime in United Kingdom among young people aged 10–24 years: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1-19.

Hobson, J., Lynch, K., Payne, B., & Ellis, L. (2021). Are police-led social crime prevention initiatives effective? A process and outcome evaluation of a UK youth intervention. International Criminal Justice Review, 31(3), 325-346.

Matthews, T. (2017). Croydon has one of the highest levels of youth violence in London, statistics show. Croydon Advertiser.

Nayak, M. S. D. P., & Narayan, K. A. (2019). Strengths and weaknesses of online surveys. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 24(5), 31-38.

Sellers, B. G., & Arrigo, B. A. (2022). The narrative framework of psychological jurisprudence: Virtue ethics as criminal justice practice. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 63, 101671.

Siedlecki, S. L. (2020). Understanding descriptive research designs and methods. Clinical Nurse Specialist, 34(1), 8-12.

Youth Justice Board (2022). Youth justice statistics: 2020 to 2021 (accessible version).

Zhao, X., & Tang, J. (2018). Crime in urban areas: A data mining perspective. Acm Sigkdd Explorations Newsletter, 20(1), 1-12.

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LawBirdie. (2023) 'Youth Crime in the United Kingdom'. 1 June.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Youth Crime in the United Kingdom." June 1, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Youth Crime in the United Kingdom." June 1, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Youth Crime in the United Kingdom." June 1, 2023.