Where have all the young offenders gone?

Matthews, B. (2014) Where have all the young offenders gone? AQMeN Research Briefing Number 4


Since the early 1990s there has been a substantial drop in police recorded crime in Scotland. Court records also show a decline in the total number of convictions, and in the number of people receiving convictions. Less is known about who is (or who is no longer) being convicted of crimes. This Research Briefing examines changing patterns in the age and gender of those convicted in Scotland over the course of the crime drop.

Previous research has indicated that the population of offenders has typical patterns of age and gender composition, with most offenders being teenagers and there being significantly more male offenders than female offenders. However, these patterns change over time (Farrington 1986). The variation in these measures provides useful criteria to assess how the offending population has changed over the course of the crime drop. By analysing the changing rates of conviction for men and women of different age groups in Scotland (Box 1) we can gain insight into how the offending population in Scotland has changed.