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TRENDS IN JUVENILE CRIME OVER THE PERIOD 2006-2015

Official Danish crime statistics show a larger number of violations of special acts than of the Criminal Law. But very often the violations of special acts are left out of the statistics because this figure is very sensitive to changes in professional practices. Further the response in these cases is mainly fines and the fine-system is very poorly enlightened statistically because fines are imposed by different authorities, not only the courts (Ministry of Justice 2015a). Regarding juveniles it can further be argued that the types of violations juveniles tend to commit are mainly criminal law violations, so by leaving special acts out while debating juvenile crime the picture will be more accurate.

For almost all age groups between 10 and 17 years old there has been a continuous decrease in registered crime charges in the period 2006-2015. In 2006 there were 25,125 suspicions or charges by the police[1] against 10-17 years old persons. In 2015 the number was reduced to 11,556, that is, a decrease of 54 % for the whole group. The reduction was 70 %> among the minors and 46 %> among the 15-17 years old (Ministry of Justice 2016).

Over the 10 year period there has been an increase in the number of individuals in the oldest groups and a decrease among the younger. This turns out to be marginally smaller among the youngest and marginally bigger among the eldest. The overall reduction is 54 % which is identical with the reduction for the whole group without the correction for changes in size of age groups.

For all the years there are about twice as many suspicions and charges as there are individuals being suspect or charged. The development in the number of suspicions and charges is parallel to the development in number of individuals being suspect or charged. But the reduction in number of suspected individuals is biggest among the youngest (the minors). The age group with the highest number of suspects was the 16 years old in 2006. This has gradually developed to the 19 years old in 2015.

There is not one single crime type which has a larger number of recorded offenses in 2015 compared to 2005. But there are temporary increases such as, for instance, for shoplifting from 2011 to 2014. The decrease in criminal damage is 75 % over the period, car theft 73 %>, burglary 62 %>, theft 61 %>, and assault and threats 58 %.

The decrease in criminal suspicions and charges is not equally shared among boys and girls. The crimes for which mainly boys are suspect or charged decreased 58 % whereas the crimes for which a girl are suspect or charged decreased 36 %. Consequently 23 % of the children’s and juvenile’s crime now refers to girls compared to 17 % in 2006.

But if we look at the number of individuals the difference is smaller. The number of girls involved with crime went down 45 % whereas the number of boys involved with crime went down 58 %. This indicates that those girls who are still involved with crime are a little more active. This is confirmed by the fact that the average number of suspicions and charges per year per boy went down from 2.3 to 2.1 from 2006 to 2015 but in the same period the same numbers for girls went up from 1.6 to 1.8. The main crime type for girls is shoplifting, which comprised 64 % of the crimes committed by girls in 2015 against only 16 % of the crimes committed by boys. Burglary, car theft, and robbery forms a more than five times bigger share of boys’ crimes than of girls’ crimes.

Generally speaking, there is no doubt that crime among children and juveniles in Denmark is decreasing. The tendency which 5-8 years ago still was described as a phenomenon which might be temporary now seems to be a trend.

  • [1] The term suspicion is used when the person is too young for a formal police charge (i.e., 10-14years old).
 
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