Explaining the crime drop: Contributions to declining crime rates from youth cohorts since 2005

Gwyn Griffiths, Gareth Norris

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Abstract

Since the mid-90s there has been almost a 50% reduction in the volume of crime in England and Wales - a trend that has been mirrored in many Western countries (Greenberg Justice Quarterly, 31(1), 154–188, 2014). Despite previous assumptions, for example, declining birth cohorts, it is proposed here that the decline in crime for the 1995–2005 period can largely be attributed to a doubling of the probability of a crime being ‘proven’ (cf Lloyd et al. 1994; MOJ, 2012; Taylor 2016). However, in the last decade these reductions in crime rates have levelled off to a relatively stable degree. Analysis of published data relating to the performance of the criminal justice system in England and Wales suggests that reductions in crime levels since 2005 are largely accounted for by the fall in proportion of the youth population engaging in offending behaviour. It is argued that falls in rates of crime are largely independent of the offending frequency of young people or variations in the probability of offences being proven; rather, reductions in youth crime over this period could largely be attributed to policy changes, including multiagency interventions targeted at young people who were at risk of starting to offend (McAra and McVie 2015; Smith 2015). Further discussion suggests that the binary proven reoffending rate is not an accurate barometer of criminal justice system performance; rather it is argued that reductions in the youth offending population feed forward into later reductions in the number of adult offenders and further impact on overall crime rates in the longer term
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25–53
Number of pages29
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Volume73
Issue number1
Early online date05 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2020

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