Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
POLICING AND JUVENILES
The juvenile justice system begins with the preventive police or the investigative judicial police either receiving a report of a crime or arresting a suspect. Criminal cases begin with criminal investigations initiated by the investigative judicial police. Criminal investigations can only be initiated by state or federal prosecutors. Prosecutors, or Ministerios Publicos in Spanish, are not police officers themselves nor do they work for the judicial branch as their name would suggest, but they are prosecuting attorneys working for the investigative police in the executive branch.
Figure 6.4. Total number of criminal investigations for juvenile crimes initiated and in process per year and with detainee, 2010—2014. Source: Author’s own based on INEGI data.
In the case of juveniles, there are specialized prosecutors for minors in every state. Naturally, criminal investigations may be initiated with or without an arrestee or suspect. The graph below shows that the number of criminal investigations of juvenile related crimes has remained about the same between 2010 and 2014. What varies across time is the number of criminal investigations with detainees. They represent between 70 % and 80 % of criminal investigations (Fig. 6.4).
It is important to know that the number of criminal investigations is a function of the number of crimes committed and the number of crimes reported to the police. In this respect, Mexico suffers from a major problem of underreporting of crime. According to INEGI’s National Survey of Victimization and Perception of Public Safety (ENVIPE), between 2010 and 2014, fewer than 12 % of all crimes reported in the survey were actually reported to the police. In addition, not all crimes reported to the police resulted in a criminal investigation. According to the same survey, less than 8 % of all crimes resulted in a criminal investigation. The main reason of this underreporting is that crime victims view the reporting of a crime as a waste of time.
It is also interesting to know the opinion of youth on policing. The Social Cohesion Survey for the Prevention of Violence and Crime (ECOPRED) of 2014 shows that the population between 12 and 29 years old neither trust in their local police nor do they think that the police is capable to arrest a criminal. To be specific, 63.4 % either do not trust or have a low level of trust in the police and 73.2 % think the police would not catch the criminal ().
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