Juvenile delinquency

It is relatively common for young people to commit offences on isolated occasions. However, a small number of young people represent most of the criminality among young people.

Crime victimisation among year-nine students

Percentage of students stating that they have been exposed to various types of offences in the last twelve months. Source: The School Survey on Crime 2015

The results of the School Survey on Crime shows that almost one-half of the students stated that they were victims of theft, assault, threats, robbery, or sexual offences at least once during the most recent twelve months. In other words, it is common for young people to be victims of crime. Taken as a whole, crime victimisation is approximately equally common among girls and boys, although the structure differs between the genders. Theft is the type of offence of which the greatest percentage of both boys and girls state that they have been victims. Boys also state that it is common that they are the victims of assault and robbery, while a greater percentage of girls state that they are victims of threats and sexual offences. Aggravated assault and robbery appear to be the types of offences which students most commonly report to the police.

Participation in crime among year-nine students

Percentage of students stating that they committed various types of offences in the last twelve months. Source: The School Survey on Crime 2015

Just as is the case with crime victimisation, it is not uncommon for year nine students to participate in various types of offences or other deviant behaviours. Approximately one-half of the students stated that they committed some form of theft offence, violent offence, or vandalism, or experimented with narcotics, on at least one occasion during the most recent twelve months. A greater percentage of boys than girls state that they have committed one of the four types of offences, but the difference between the genders varies for the different types of offences. The smallest difference between the genders relates to theft offences and the greatest relates to violent offences. At the same time, the results show that as the severity and quantity of an individual’s offences increases, the percentage of students who state that they have such experience decreases. For all four types of offences, it is most common that those students who committed offences stated that they did so 1–2 times during the most recent twelve months.

The School Survey on Crime

The overall purpose of the School Survey on Crime is to investigate crime victimisation and participation in crime, as well as other deviant behaviour among year-nine students on the basis of self-reported data.

Young people suspected of offences

Number of persons between 15-20 years of age suspected of offences 2007–2016. Source: Persons suspected of offences

The percentage of young people suspected of crimes is declining

Young people are overrepresented in the statistic of persons suspected of offences and also in terms of the number of convictions. In other words, it is more common for a younger person to commit a crime; however it is important to remember that the number of suspected persons in different age groups is affected by population trends. In that light, one can see that the number of persons suspected of offences per 100,000 residents in the younger age groups (15 – 20 years of age) has remained relatively stable during a ten-year period.

Young people found guilty of offences

Number of conviction decisions by age (15 – 20 years of age) per 100,000 residents, 2004 – 2013. Source: Persons found guilty of offences

It is clearly most common for young people to be convicted of offences like shoplifting and theft. Assault and other so-called offences against the person appear more often in convictions of young people as compared with older age groups, as does vandalism, such as tagging and other types of vandalism.

Robbery and car theft increase the risk for continued criminality

Young people who were previously found guilty of robbery, taking a car without consent, and threats of violence against public officials are in the risk zone for continued criminality. Brå has conducted a survey regarding so-called strategic offences which shows that certain types of offences are more common among those who have been previously found guilty and thereafter continue to commit offences. Obstruction of justice was also one of the most common debut offences among the risk group. On the other hand, assault, sexual offences, and theft do not serve as typical indicators of continued criminality in the same way.

What sanctions are imposed on young people?

A person becomes subject to criminal sanctions upon reaching 15 years of age. There are special provisions regarding youthful perpetrators including, for example, the way in which police, public prosecutors, and courts handle the matter. Young people may, for example, be sentenced to fines and imprisonment, but persons younger than 21 years of age are seldom imprisoned. The most common sanctions are fines and waivers of prosecution when the matter is dismissed. If a person under the age of 18 has committed an aggravated offence, they are almost exclusively sentenced to secure youth care rather than prison.

Special sanctions for young people

  • Supervisory custody
  • Youth service (a type of unpaid work)
  • Supervisory custody in combination with youth service
  • Secure youth care