Swansea University survey finds public overestimate level of local youth crime
A recent survey of public opinion by Dr Kevin Haines and Dr Stephen Case, both of the Centre for Criminal Justice & Criminology at Swansea University, shows that the Swansea public overestimate the level of local youth crime .
A recent survey of public opinion undertaken by two lecturers in Criminology at Swansea University finds that people consistently overestimate the level of youth crime in the city.
The research by Dr Kevin Haines and Dr Stephen Case found that 60% of respondents felt youth crime had increased over the past two years, with older people significantly more likely to believe this. In fact, official youth crime as reported by the Swansea Youth Offending Team had fallen (26% between 2002/03 and 2004/05).
Respondents, particularly women and younger people, also perceived levels of violent and theft related crime committed by young people to be higher than they actually are.
The public also seems to be ambivalent about punishment for youth crime. There is general support for punitive sentences and a perception that sentencing is generally too lenient, but this co-exists with support for measures to prevent crime and for constructive community-based sentencing for young people.
Commenting on the findings Dr Haines said
“There seems to be a profound disconnection between how the Swansea public perceives youth crime and the reality. Our respondents believe the situation is worse than it actually is. In fact their views are more in line with general perceptions of levels of youth crime throughout England and Wales, suggesting that national media and political debate plays a role in how they form their perceptions on these issues more than their own experiences or the actual situation locally.
As a result local dialogue and debate between the public and those managing youth crime and justice, frequently takes place in a climate of mutual misunderstanding which further compromises public confidence in youth justice systems.”