Youth Crime and Justice: Key messages from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime

Published: June 2010

Based on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, this article challenges the evidence-base which policy-makers have drawn on to justify the evolving models of youth justice across the UK (both in Scotland and England/Wales).  It argues that to deliver justice, systems need to address four key facts about youth crime: serious offending is linked to a broad range of vulnerabilities and social adversity; early identification of at-risk children is not an exact science and runs the risk of labelling and stigmatizing; pathways out of offending are facilitated or impeded by critical moments in the early teenage years, in particular school exclusion; and diversionary strategies facilitate the desistance process. The article concludes that the Scottish system should be better placed than most other western systems to deliver justice for children (due to its founding commitment to decriminalization and destigmatization). However, as currently implemented, it appears to be failing many young people.

Authors / Editors

Prof Lesley McAra

University of Edinburgh

Prof Susan McVie OBE FRSE

Research Themes

Young People and Youth Justice

Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice