‘What Have we Done Right?’ Targets and Youth Crime Prevention

Published 17/03/2010
Type Article
Author(s) Graham Smyth
Corresponding Authors Graham Smyth, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Manchester Metropolitan University

The article considers the impact of targets set for criminal justice agencies on the effort to prevent youth crime. Targets are frequently counter-productive because organisations concentrate on the target rather than the work it is supposed to promote. In the case of youth crime, there have been apparently impressive reductions in the number of young people entering the criminal justice system as first offenders. Whether this is primarily the result of prevention of offending or diversion from the system is unclear. This uncertainty is discussed, along with contradictory policy directions in the response to youth crime which suggest the importance of prevention along with trends which may lead key organisations to turn against it.