I had earlier [4/9/07] received this reply from Keith
Dear Mr Dean
Thank you for your email regarding my report on child crime.
I appreciate your concern and would like to address the points
I feel I avoided what you call the "shock horror"
approach with my report. I was very clear that compared to
the overall number of crimes recorded in the same period the
number in which the suspect was under 10 represented a tiny
I was also careful to avoid any sense that the problem was
getting worse. This was a snapshot of the situation and as
such there was no claim that the number of crimes involving
young children was going up or down.
I also think it is fair to say there is currently concern
regarding young people as both perpetrators and victims of
crime. Again I made no comparisons to the past and was simply
stating the situation now.
I hope this addresses your concerns.
Intitial email (2/9/07) to the BBC's
In your report on crimes committed
by children (BBC News 24, 2/9/07), you say: "...at a
time when several high profile cases have involved children
as both victim and perpetrator, the fact that so many are
coming to the attention of the police is causing concern."
"So many"? Compared
to what? It's notable that the BBC report mentions no figures
from the past, so we're given no idea of trends. The figure
mentioned by the BBC (3,000 crimes) included "criminal
damage". Children have committed "criminal damage"
(eg breaking windows, graffiti, etc) for centuries. As for
the more shocking crimes, they remain extremely rare.
Given a historic context, I see no
real "news" here, let alone a headline story. The
figures are of academic interest, but they don't seem to warrant
the BBC's headline "shock-horror" treatment. In
1898, newspapers in England warned of the menace of "hooligans"
and of a "dramatic increase in disorderly behaviour".
The Times reported "organised terrorism in the streets".
In every decade of the 20th century there were similar media
panics. In the 1800s, hordes of teens and pre-teens ran wild
in American city streets, dodging authorities, "gnawing
away at the foundations of society", as a commentator