Youth crime leads to no consequences

Youth crime leads to no consequences
By Henrika Åkerman
Translation: Ruby Harrold-Claesson, lawyer





This is the translation of the article "
Ungas brott får ingen konsekvens" that was previously published on the Swedish Radio web site, on June 24, 2008.

Webmaster's comments:
It is quit interesting that after almost 29 years of experimenting with children and their families, now that youth criminality is at its peak and the state agencies seem totally ill-equipped and ineffective in stemming the problems, they now are trying to pass the buck back to the parents.



Each year around 15 000 children under the age of fifteen years are reported to the police for having committed a crime. But mostly, there are no clear responses neither from the social services or the police. This according to a new report from the Swedish National Board for Crime Prevention. According to Stina Holmberg, head of Department at the NBCP the social services should do more to prevent the children from continuing to commit crimes.

"When a child is reported to the police for a crime, the police report is sent to social services, and in the majority of cases, the social services do nothing. They may send a letter to the parents if they want to have any help because of it so they can get it, but nothing else happens", says Stina Holmberg, head of Department at the NBCP.


It is mostly small crimes, like petty theft and vandalism. Only one of ten such police reports lead to interrogation by the police, and it is also unusual with talks with a social worker, according to the NBCP's report.

Solveig Björklund is a social worker in Stockholm, and she works at the police station at Södermalm. The youngsters who she comes in contact with have usually committed more serious crimes.

"When young people under fifteen years are involved it is usually robbery, assault and unlawful threats. It is not matter of shoplifting, which otherwise is the most common offence", Solveig Björklund says.


This is the general picture according to the NBCP, and they believe that the social services should have far more talks with the young offenders and their parents than they do today.


"We have seen previously, that it is quite seldom that the police do anything, and what has been discussed in recent years is that the police should be given a more important role when children under the age of fifteen years commit crimes. These crimes should be investigated to a greater extent, as a social marker, as a kind of recurrence prevention effort, to show that society takes this seriously", Stina Holmberg head of Department at the NBCP says.


"What we think is that the police have a lot of demands on them today, and we may not think that this would be one of the core tasks of the police, but that the social services that have the expertise and experience to ensure the child's best interests, could also be the signalling, educational reaction for children", says Stina Holmberg.


But social workers Solveig Björklund are more doubtful.
"If they are to have that kind of conversation, then of course one should also know that it is the sort of conversation that will have a crime prevention effect. And I'm not sure that it is just these kinds of talks with the social services or the police that have what it takes for this young group. The most important thing for them is their parents", says Solveig Björklund, social worker in Stockholm.

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