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Juvenile Crime in Police Crime Statistics
Figures for juvenile crime in Switzerland are collected within the broader set of police crime statistics. Prior to 2009, the compilation of crimes registered by the police was fractional and the quality of the data and the statistics could not be guaranteed by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Therefore, data presented in this report is based on data from 2009 on.
The Police Crime Statistics (PCS) include underage persons who are suspected for perpetrating petty crimes, misdemeanors, or crimes indicted under the CC. Crime rate figures per 100,000 within the same age group are not calculated by the Statistical Office. Table 22.1 clearly shows that since 2009 the number of minor offenders registered by the police has consistently declined in all age groups (see also Urwyler & Nett 2012). The decline in the age group 15-17 until 2014 was 37 %, and the decline in the age group 10-14 was even higher at 44 %. This strong decrease in number of offenders cannot be explained solely by population changes. Though the absolute number of minors in the resident population also declined between 2004 and 2014, it declined by only 5 % (Bundesamt fur Statistik 2015b) so that other developments must account for the decreasing number of minor offenders. Empirically driven evidence supporting the assumption that changes in reporting practices or in the investigative practices of the responsible
Table 22.1. Number of police registered minors charged with violations against CC by year and age group
Source: Police Crime Statistics (PCS) 2014 (Bundesamt fur Statistik 2015a)
Table 22.2. Number of convicted minors by year and age group
Source: Bundesamt fur Statistik, Juvenile Sentencing Statistics (JUSUS) aAs of2007, age of criminal responsibility raised to 10 years
institutions could be responsible for the decline in number is lacking. At issue is whether the decline can be explained by intensified protective measures (Vollmer
2016), changes in migration patterns (Killias et al. 2010), or, alternatively, changing security technologies, such as increasing number of control measures (Killias et al. 2010: 15).
It should be pointed out that the statistics depicted here contain only numbers for offenses against penal laws and not for offenses against narcotics laws or traffic laws. It is important to note that violations of narcotics laws or traffic laws are often counted in determining crime rates in other European countries; therefore, it would be difficult to conduct an international comparison of crime rates. In the case of Switzerland, for example, adding in violations of narcotics laws leads to a much higher number of crimes committed by juveniles: in 201 there was a total of 4982 narcotic law violations among 15-17-year-olds; the number of offenders in the 10-14 age group was 521 (Bundesamt fhr Statistik 2015a). Furthermore, in the 2014 report the PCS shows that juveniles were predominantly registered by the police for one single offense; serious delinquency constituted an exception. The result that a small number of serious juvenile offenders (Intensivtatern) are responsible for a comparatively large number of crimes is true for Switzerland as well (Freihofer 2014).
In the past 15 years, the topic of youth violence has been hotly debated in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Statistical Office recently published a special report on youth violence (Bundesamt fhr Statistik 2015b). Whereas analyses of the crime statistics on violent crime showed an increase in numbers over time (Aebersold 2011; Eisner et al. 2009; Kunz 2012; Urwyler & Nett 2012; cf. Lanfranconi 2009; Riedo 2010), the most recent appraisal (Bundesamt fhr Statistik 2015b) from 2009 on pointed to a clear decline in violent youth criminality. In PCS between 2009 and 2014 the number of violent crimes dropped by 44 %; the decline among male offenders is much more pronounced than among female offenders. Furthermore, according to these figures, the crime rates for Swiss as well as for foreign-born male juvenile offenders have declined and over time have drawn closer.
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