The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime Lesley McAra and Susan McVie University of Edinburgh
The Edinburgh Study <ul><li>Longitudinal study of pathways into and out of offending  </li></ul><ul><li>Funded by: ESRC, t...
The cohort <ul><li>Target group: children in Edinburgh aged 12 in autumn 1998 </li></ul><ul><li>Mainstream (all 23), speci...
Data sources <ul><li>Self report questionnaires  (6 annual sweeps) </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured interviews (sweeps 2 ...
Current phase <ul><li>Funded by Nuffield Foundation and undertaken in collaboration with the Scottish Government </li></ul...
Key Findings Relating to Policing and Youth Justice
Four ‘facts’ <ul><li>Persistent serious offending is associated with victimisation and social adversity </li></ul><ul><li>...
On the basis of these facts…..  <ul><li>Conundrum facing policy-makers: how to develop a system of youth justice which is ...
Claim1: evidence Persistent serious offending is associated with victimisation and social adversity
% involvement in violent offending (Robbery, carrying weapon, 6+ incidents of assault in past year)
Violence and vulnerability
Violence and vulnerability cont.
Violence and vulnerability cont.
Claim 2: evidence Early identification of at-risk children is not a water-tight process
Majority of serious and persistent offenders under the radar (based on self-report data)  <ul><li>- Serious offending: 6+ ...
How soon can we tell? cont. Behavioural problems reported in CHS/SW files by age 5  n=105 (%) Institutional pathways Refer...
How soon can we tell? cont <ul><li>Inability to identify the vast majority of serious and persistent (self-reported) offen...
Claim 3: evidence Critical moments in the early teenage years are key to pathways out of offending
Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010 in press)
Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010 in press)
Shared characteristics:  early onset groups at age 12  Social deprivation <ul><li>Free school meal entitlement </li></ul><...
… they reported exactly the same levels of serious offending
Key change in chronic group 13-15 <ul><li>Significant increase in: </li></ul><ul><li>- truancy  </li></ul><ul><li>- school...
Comparing conviction trajectory groups:  Later onset vs. early onset groups (age 12) Similarities Differences <ul><li>Brok...
Change linked to later onset <ul><li>Family breakdown (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Lower parental monitoring (13-15) </li></u...
Claim 4: evidence Diversionary strategies facilitate the desistence process
Damaging features of system contact  (McAra and McVie 2007a) <ul><li>Compulsory measures of care appear to inhibit the nor...
Impact of agency contact <ul><li>We looked at 3 levels of agency contact at age 15:- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Being ‘charged’...
% Involvement in serious offending one year later
Within group % change in serious offending from age 15 to age 16 INTERVENTION  GROUP COMPARISON GROUP Stage 1 Charge -50 (...
Outcomes for those warned or ‘charged’ by the police but not referred to CHS (ever): the vast majority of these youngsters...
Youth to adult criminal justice transitions: up-tariffing the vulnerable (McAra and McVie 2007b, 2010a) <ul><li>Key factor...
The revolving door Residential care by 16 th  birthday % criminal conviction by age 22 77 Residential care by 16 th  birth...
Lessons from the Edinburgh Study
Core messages <ul><li>Persistent serious offending linked to victimisation and social adversity </li></ul><ul><li>Early id...
Early years Transition into teenage years Transitions into early adulthood <ul><li>‘ Universal targeting’  communities not...
Themes and questions for discussion <ul><li>The disjuncture between self-reported offending and institutional contacts </l...
References: McAra and McVie, 2005, The Usual Suspects?  Young People, Street Life and the Police,  Criminology and Crimina...
The usual suspects (McAra and McVie 2005, 2007a) <ul><li>Working cultures of police and Reporter mean that certain categor...
Supervision requirements Nature of contact % of ‘cases’ brought to hearing (n=59) Regular child and family 63 Regular indi...
Regular one-to-one contact with a social worker <ul><li>Regular one-to-one contact with social worker age 15: statisticall...
Longer term impact of school exclusion Outcomes Those excluded by S3 n=471 % Not excluded % Serious offender at age 17/18 ...
Edinburgh Study findings: boys (McAra and McVie 2005, McAra 2006) <ul><li>They were just jumping out the cars with the bat...
Edinburgh Study findings: girls (McAra and McVie 2005, McAra 2006) <ul><li>(I was) embarrassed, really bad. </li></ul><ul>...
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Mc ara and mcvie the edinburgh study of youth transitions and crime

  1. 1. The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime Lesley McAra and Susan McVie University of Edinburgh
  2. 2. The Edinburgh Study <ul><li>Longitudinal study of pathways into and out of offending </li></ul><ul><li>Funded by: ESRC, the Nuffield Foundation, and the Scottish Government </li></ul><ul><li>Aims to understand: </li></ul><ul><li>- Why some young people become heavily involved in crime and why most stop </li></ul><ul><li>- Gender differences in offending </li></ul><ul><li>- The influence of social and neighbourhood context </li></ul><ul><li>- The impact of contact with agencies of control on subsequent behaviour </li></ul>
  3. 3. The cohort <ul><li>Target group: children in Edinburgh aged 12 in autumn 1998 </li></ul><ul><li>Mainstream (all 23), special (9 out of 12) and independent schools (8 out of 14) </li></ul><ul><li>Cohort size: 4,380 </li></ul><ul><li>Response rate in participating schools: </li></ul><ul><li>- 95% up to sweep 4 </li></ul><ul><li>- 90% at sweep 5 </li></ul><ul><li>- 81% at sweep 6 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Data sources <ul><li>Self report questionnaires (6 annual sweeps) </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured interviews (sweeps 2 and 6) </li></ul><ul><li>School, social work, children’s hearings records (annual sweeps) </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher questionnaires (1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Police juvenile liaison officer records </li></ul><ul><li>Scottish criminal records (conviction data up to age 22) </li></ul><ul><li>Parent survey (2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Geographic information system </li></ul>
  5. 5. Current phase <ul><li>Funded by Nuffield Foundation and undertaken in collaboration with the Scottish Government </li></ul><ul><li>Aims: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to map the criminal justice careers of cohort members (from age 8, the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland, to 22) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to explore transitions from the juvenile to adult system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to assess the impact of these careers on desistance from criminal offending. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Follows up sub-sample of around 444 cohort members, including: </li></ul><ul><li>- all those with offence referral to the children’s hearing system </li></ul><ul><li>- two control groups (one matched to those with early history of referral; one matched to those who had a first referral at age 15). </li></ul>
  6. 6. Key Findings Relating to Policing and Youth Justice
  7. 7. Four ‘facts’ <ul><li>Persistent serious offending is associated with victimisation and social adversity </li></ul><ul><li>Early identification of at-risk children is not a water-tight process and may be iatrogenic </li></ul><ul><li>Critical moments in the early teenage years are key to pathways out of offending </li></ul><ul><li>Diversionary strategies facilitate the desistence process. </li></ul>
  8. 8. On the basis of these facts….. <ul><li>Conundrum facing policy-makers: how to develop a system of youth justice which is holistic in orientation (intervention proportionate to need) AND which maximises diversion from criminal justice? </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: age-graded services and support to include ‘universal targeting’ in the early years and more finely tuned individual targeting in the teenage years </li></ul><ul><li>Social justice not criminal justice </li></ul>
  9. 9. Claim1: evidence Persistent serious offending is associated with victimisation and social adversity
  10. 10. % involvement in violent offending (Robbery, carrying weapon, 6+ incidents of assault in past year)
  11. 11. Violence and vulnerability
  12. 12. Violence and vulnerability cont.
  13. 13. Violence and vulnerability cont.
  14. 14. Claim 2: evidence Early identification of at-risk children is not a water-tight process
  15. 15. Majority of serious and persistent offenders under the radar (based on self-report data) <ul><li>- Serious offending: 6+ incidents of assault; robbery; weapon carrying; fire-raising </li></ul><ul><li>housebreaking; breaking into motor vehicle to steal; riding in stolen motor-vehicle; </li></ul><ul><li>- Chronic high level serious offenders: 11+ incidents at every study sweep </li></ul><ul><li>- Violence: 6+ incidents of assault; robbery; weapon carrying </li></ul><ul><li>Chronic violence: admitted to at least one violent offence every study sweep </li></ul>Chronic high level serious offenders n=383 % Chronic violent offenders n=213 % Violence at age 17 n=352 % Never known to children’s hearing system 69 67 77 Never known to social work 73 79 81 No convictions in criminal justice system by age 18 84 83 83
  16. 16. How soon can we tell? cont. Behavioural problems reported in CHS/SW files by age 5 n=105 (%) Institutional pathways Referral to Reporter at age 13 37 Referral to Reporter at age 15 45 Conviction in adult system by age 22 46
  17. 17. How soon can we tell? cont <ul><li>Inability to identify the vast majority of serious and persistent (self-reported) offenders from an early age </li></ul><ul><li>Dunedin longitudinal study (see White et al. 1990) </li></ul><ul><li>- 19% wrongly predicted by age 11 (around 1 in 5 false positive rate) </li></ul><ul><li>- 35% wrongly predicted by age 15 (around 1 in 3 false positive rate) </li></ul><ul><li>- Predictability declines in the mid teenage years as other influences become important </li></ul><ul><li>“ Due to the high rate of false positives among those children predicted to have antisocial outcomes, the usefulness of preschool behaviour predictors for selecting children for intensive early intervention efforts may be limited at present” (pp 523) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Claim 3: evidence Critical moments in the early teenage years are key to pathways out of offending
  19. 19. Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010 in press)
  20. 20. Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
  21. 21. Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
  22. 22. Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
  23. 23. Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010)
  24. 24. Conviction trajectories (McAra and McVie 2010 in press)
  25. 25. Shared characteristics: early onset groups at age 12 Social deprivation <ul><li>Free school meal entitlement </li></ul><ul><li>Low household socio-economic status </li></ul>Disrupted Family <ul><li>Broken family </li></ul><ul><li>Low level parental monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>High level conflict with parents </li></ul>Substance misuse <ul><li>Illegal drugs taken </li></ul><ul><li>Weekly alcohol use </li></ul>Street-life <ul><li>Hang out most evenings </li></ul><ul><li>Friends heavily involved in offending </li></ul>School disconnection <ul><li>School exclusion age 12 (prevalence) </li></ul><ul><li>High volume truancy from primary school </li></ul>Institutional history (NB only 18% chronics and 17% of desisters known by age 5) <ul><li>High volume police adversarial contact by age 12 </li></ul><ul><li>Early chs/sw system contact by age 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Offence referral to Reporter by age 12 </li></ul><ul><li>Statutory supervision by age 12 </li></ul>
  26. 26. … they reported exactly the same levels of serious offending
  27. 27. Key change in chronic group 13-15 <ul><li>Significant increase in: </li></ul><ul><li>- truancy </li></ul><ul><li>- school exclusion </li></ul><ul><li>- adversarial police contact </li></ul>
  28. 28. Comparing conviction trajectory groups: Later onset vs. early onset groups (age 12) Similarities Differences <ul><li>Broken family </li></ul><ul><li>Low level parental monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict with parents </li></ul><ul><li>Alcohol use </li></ul><ul><li>Peer involvement in offending </li></ul><ul><li>Lower level of serious offending </li></ul><ul><li>Less social deprivation (all study measures) </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to hang out daily </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to use drugs </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to truant </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to be excluded from school </li></ul><ul><li>Lower volume of adversarial police contact </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to be on statutory supervision (chs) </li></ul>
  29. 29. Change linked to later onset <ul><li>Family breakdown (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Lower parental monitoring (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased peer involvement in offending (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Moving into area of social deprivation (12-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased volume serious offending (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased drug use (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased hanging out (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased truancy from school (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased exclusion from school (13-15) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased volume adversarial police contact (13-15) </li></ul>
  30. 30. Claim 4: evidence Diversionary strategies facilitate the desistence process
  31. 31. Damaging features of system contact (McAra and McVie 2007a) <ul><li>Compulsory measures of care appear to inhibit the normal process of desistance from serious offending that is evident from around age 14 in the cohort </li></ul><ul><li>Conversely police warnings/charges (but no further action) associated with a significant reduction in serious offending one year later </li></ul><ul><li>Edinburgh Study findings in tune with other international comparative research e.g. Denver/Bremen longitudinal studies (Huizinga et al. 2003) </li></ul>
  32. 32. Impact of agency contact <ul><li>We looked at 3 levels of agency contact at age 15:- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Being ‘charged’ by the police </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being referred to the Reporter, but no action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being referred to the Reporter, and brought to a hearing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To make sure we were comparing like with like we ‘matched’ young people on the basis of their offending, background characteristics, lifestyles, risk factors and family backgrounds. </li></ul><ul><li>We then compared each set of matched pairs to see how their offending changed (intervention group v comparison group) </li></ul>
  33. 33. % Involvement in serious offending one year later
  34. 34. Within group % change in serious offending from age 15 to age 16 INTERVENTION GROUP COMPARISON GROUP Stage 1 Charge -50 (.000) -43 (.001) Stage 2 Reporter contact -39 (.001) -42 (.000) Stage 3 Supervision -31 (NS) -49 (.001)
  35. 35. Outcomes for those warned or ‘charged’ by the police but not referred to CHS (ever): the vast majority of these youngsters had NO criminal convictions, one-off episodes of police contact indicate a very very low risk! <ul><li>Convictions for serious violence: serious assault; robbery; attempted murder </li></ul>Warning or charge NO convictions (any offence) by age 22 % NO convictions for serious violence by age 22 % By 12 but no further police contact n=32 87 100 By 12 and further police contact age 13-15 (n=71) 62 94 By age 15 ( n=500) 75 96
  36. 36. Youth to adult criminal justice transitions: up-tariffing the vulnerable (McAra and McVie 2007b, 2010a) <ul><li>Key factors predicting transition from children’s hearings to adult system are: </li></ul><ul><li>- Excluded from school by 3 rd year of secondary school </li></ul><ul><li>- Early history of police warning/charges </li></ul><ul><li>- Being male </li></ul><ul><li>- ***Assessed as most ‘needy’ in reporter files*** </li></ul>
  37. 37. The revolving door Residential care by 16 th birthday % criminal conviction by age 22 77 Residential care by 16 th birthday % imprisonment by age 22 31 Period of imprisonment by age 18 % further criminal conviction by age 22 80 Period of imprisonment by age 18 % further period of imprisonment by age 22 70 Convicted by 18 but not imprisoned % further criminal conviction by age 22 43
  38. 38. Lessons from the Edinburgh Study
  39. 39. Core messages <ul><li>Persistent serious offending linked to victimisation and social adversity </li></ul><ul><li>Early identification difficult and risk of labelling (creating a self-fulfilling prophecy) </li></ul><ul><li>Critical moments in early teenage years key to pathways out of offending </li></ul><ul><li>Diversionary strategies effective </li></ul><ul><li>Key question: how to develop a youth justice policy which is both holistic (intervention proportionate to need) and maximises diversion from criminal justice? </li></ul>
  40. 40. Early years Transition into teenage years Transitions into early adulthood <ul><li>‘ Universal targeting’ communities not individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Poverty </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships and parenting </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-school and early years education </li></ul><ul><li>Outreach services </li></ul><ul><li>School inclusion </li></ul><ul><li>(Police) diversionary activities </li></ul><ul><li>Youth justice intervention based on ‘desistance paradigm’ </li></ul><ul><li>Support into further education, training or employment </li></ul><ul><li>Support for those leaving care system </li></ul><ul><li>Intensive support for most vulnerable offenders known to youth justice (at point of entering adult criminal justice system) </li></ul><ul><li>Retain 16-17 year olds in youth rather than adult justice </li></ul>
  41. 41. Themes and questions for discussion <ul><li>The disjuncture between self-reported offending and institutional contacts </li></ul><ul><li>Vulnerable transition points: </li></ul><ul><li>- primary to secondary education </li></ul><ul><li>- leaving institutional care </li></ul><ul><li>- exiting the children’s hearing system </li></ul><ul><li>- leaving prison </li></ul><ul><li>Given the ‘facts’ about youth crime and justice what are the key gaps in current service provision and how could existing services be made more effective? </li></ul><ul><li>The challenges posed by the current economic context and a majority Scottish government in 2011….. </li></ul>
  42. 42. References: McAra and McVie, 2005, The Usual Suspects? Young People, Street Life and the Police, Criminology and Criminal Justice , 5 (1):1-36 McAra and McVie, 2007a, Youth Justice? The Impact of System Contact on Patterns of Desistance from Offending, European Journal of Criminology , 4 (3) McAra and McVie, 2007b, Criminal Justice Transitions, Research Digest, no. 14 McAra and McVie, 2010a, Youth Crime and Justice: Key messages from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 10 (2): 179-209. McAra and McVie, 2010b (forthcoming), Criminal Justice Pathways: Key findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, Research Digest , no. 15 www.law.ed.ac.uk/cls/esytc/
  43. 43. The usual suspects (McAra and McVie 2005, 2007a) <ul><li>Working cultures of police and Reporter mean that certain categories of youngsters are constantly recycled into system whilst other equally serious/vulnerable offenders escape tutelage of agencies altogether </li></ul><ul><li>Children with ‘previous form’ </li></ul><ul><li>- 7 times more likely to be formally charged by police </li></ul><ul><li>- 4 times more likely to be referred by police to Reporter </li></ul><ul><li>- 3 times more likely to be brought to a hearing by Reporter </li></ul><ul><li>(the ‘usual suspects’ are mostly boys, from socially deprived areas living in single parent households) </li></ul>
  44. 44. Supervision requirements Nature of contact % of ‘cases’ brought to hearing (n=59) Regular child and family 63 Regular individual work with the child 25 Irregular contact 20 Specialist services Educational welfare/psychologist 56 Youth strategy group 49 Work on offending 36 Mental health services 10
  45. 45. Regular one-to-one contact with a social worker <ul><li>Regular one-to-one contact with social worker age 15: statistically significant decline (p <.000) in serious offending over the next year </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of regular one-to-one contact with social worker age 15: no statistically significant change in serious offending </li></ul>
  46. 46. Longer term impact of school exclusion Outcomes Those excluded by S3 n=471 % Not excluded % Serious offender at age 17/18 (self-report) 47 24 Criminal conviction by age 22 50 12 Conviction for serious violence by age 22 22 2 Imprisonment by age 22 5 0.2
  47. 47. Edinburgh Study findings: boys (McAra and McVie 2005, McAra 2006) <ul><li>They were just jumping out the cars with the batons… and the first thing that comes to us is to jump on the bike and go away. They’ll never catch up because we’ve got motor crosses so it’s easy. </li></ul><ul><li>One time we were phoning the police and saying ‘my grand-bairns are trying to get to sleep’, or something, ‘can you send down a car to get the people away’. And then we just used to get a chase’. </li></ul><ul><li>Well the police tend to check up on us a lot. More than they should. The just check up on us and search people for no reason…They just drive in and look at who’s there. Just because they think things happen there. </li></ul>
  48. 48. Edinburgh Study findings: girls (McAra and McVie 2005, McAra 2006) <ul><li>(I was) embarrassed, really bad. </li></ul><ul><li>I’d just sit there and be like ‘I’ve never done it before’. It was awful. </li></ul><ul><li>(I was) ashamed and disgusted. </li></ul>
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