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Longitudinal analysis of the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey

Community policing
Published: June 2009


We conducted a longitudinal analysis of the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey (OCJS) to examine offending, anti-social behaviour and drug use among young people.

We found that young people commit a high proportion of criminal offences and that while some incidents are not serious (and may not have been reported to the police), they are against the law.


Half the respondents admit offences

  • Half the people aged 10-25 (49%) who took part in the four waves of the survey committed offences.
  • Annual estimates of those admitting committing offences in the previous 12 months varied from 21% to 23%.

Assaults are most prevalent, followed by drug crime

  • Assaults accounted for half the offences (48%) over four years. Drug crime (selling drugs) was the second most common offence, at one-fifth of all incidents admitted by respondents.
  • Burglary and robbery each accounted for just 1 per cent of the offences.

We found three significant factors associated with offending:

  • both parents no longer living in the same household;
  • poor maintenance of discipline at school;
  • friends or siblings in trouble with the police.

Crime is commonplace among 16 to 17-year-old men

  • Three-quarters (74%) of men aged 16 or 17 had committed one or more offences in the previous 12 months.
  • Even among those aged 10 or 11, 60 per cent had committed an offence (in the analysis, very minor incidents such as pushing and shoving in the dinner queue at school were excluded). 
  • From age 20 and over, fewer than half the young men had committed offences.

Among young women, crime is commonplace among 11 to 15-year-olds

  • Among young women, half of those aged 11 to 15 had committed one of more offences.
  • The prevalence dropped to around one in three at age 20 and over.


Interviews with people aged 10 to 25, who were interviewed up to four times over the lifetime of the OCJS (2003-2006).

Read the report