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Police Data on Juvenile Offending

Like many other developed countries, rates of recorded crimes and offences[1] [2] in Scotland have shown a sharp decline in recent decades (Scottish Government 2015b). Importantly, there is strong evidence that the crime drop has been driven to a large extent by a fall in youth offending. Police data on juvenile offending have not been published routinely in Scotland. However, according to the most recently available data, the overall number of detected crimes and offences involving young people aged 8-17 declined from 78,572 in 2008/09 to 43,117 in 2012/13, a fall of 45 %; while the total number of 8- to 17-year-olds who were known to have committed detected crimes and offences also declined, from 35,466 in 2009/10 to 23,726 in 2012/13, a 33 %> decrease (Scottish Government 2013:53). In addition, the number of restorative justice warnings issued by the police to young people declined from 2479 young people in 2008/9 to 216 in 2014/15, a fall of 92 % (Scottish Government 2016). It is notable that this apparent fall in youth

Number of people aged under 18 referred to the CHS on offence grounds, 2004/5 to 2013/14. Source

Figure 18.1. Number of people aged under 18 referred to the CHS on offence grounds, 2004/5 to 2013/14. Source: SCRA Statistical Dashboard (The SCRA Statistical Dashboard is available at

offending coincides with the period of juvenile justice reform based on the GIRFEC model of welfare, described earlier; although, without reliable data for earlier periods it is not possible to draw definitive conclusions.

  • [1] In Scotland, recorded crime is separated (mainly for statistical purposes) into “crimes”—whichtend to be more serious criminal acts and “offences” which are generally less serious incidents.
  • [2] Note that although there was a drop in the youth population over the last three decades this doesnot explain the drop in offence referrals as per capita rates show a similar level of decline (McAraand McVie 2014).
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