Yes. Youth crime is on the increase, because new offences are being created. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 has caused an increase in offending among young people. If you’re a sixteen year old boy with a fifteen year old girl, you can now be prosecuted for a sexual offence. If you're a teenage kid sending a sexually explicit picture to another teenager, as kids do now on Snapchat, you can be prosecuted for making indecent images, or possessing a child porn image. Young people can now be prosecuted for such offences that, if convicted, they can find themselves on the Sexual Offenders Register. It’s a total minefield.
Also, young people are taken in front of the court and prosecuted when there really is no need to. Contact with the courts can lead to a loss of fear of the judicial system. That conviction can become a badge of honour, leading to a spiral of further offending. Once an individual is labelled an offender they have a ‘fuck it’ attitude. There’s then nothing left to lose.
“Convictions can become a badge of honour, leading to a spiral of further offending.”
Also, society is currently too quick to prosecute young people for incidents that, ten years ago, would not even have been crimes. There should be zero tolerance to bullying, yes? But if a child snatches another child’s dinner money does it really merit a prosecution for robbery, and a criminal conviction for someone whose brain has not yet fully formed? Yesterday I represented one of four fourteen year old schoolkids who saw a teaching assistant in Waitrose and called her a “fat fishy bitch”. They did not admit it in the police station. They had not been been in trouble before. Someone thought it appropriate to prosecute them under Section Four of the Public Order Act, for threatening words and behaviour. They had to go to court. There was a trial. Everything about that is wrong.
We are in the midst of a culture here and abroad where the victim must always be believed. There is a real problem with that. More allegations are prosecuted because the CPS do not have sufficient resources for stopping, thinking, reviewing and considering the consequences of a case. The CPS need to be a little bit more pragmatic about who they take to court and what they take to court. I’m seeing a substantial number of stupid, trivial cases at the moment, and more serious cases not being prosecuted because it’s considered to be too expensive, and the CPS have got to hit their budget and their targets.