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Wednesday, March 4, 1998 Published at 18:25 GMT


Research claims to identify potential young criminals
image: [ The ACPO claims that those likely to be young offenders can be offered help. ]
The ACPO claims that those likely to be young offenders can be offered help.

Potential criminals can be identified at ages as young as seven or eight, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Research collated by ACPO into why 7m crimes are committed each year by under 18 year olds found that a number of factors can be used to pinpoint potential criminals.

The results concluded:

  • That women who marry as teenagers are twice as likely to have children who commit crimes by the age of 32.
  • That harsh or 'erratic' parenting doubles the risk of a child offending.
  • That children whose parents were divorced or separated were more likely to offend.

Tony Butler, the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire who is also the spokesman on juvenile crime for ACPO, said the police should be offering a more preventative approach.

"Where we have got young children behaving badly, we should adopt the approach of getting agencies involved and case conferencing those children to determine what is the best approach to prevent them drifting into a life of delinquency," he said.

"This is recognised already in the Crime Disorder Bill. What's important is to look at children who are experiencing difficulty, and to act in their best interests."

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