Crime does pay, say teens

Article date: 16 September 2003

The old adage ‘crime doesn’t pay’ no longerrings true for the nation’s teens, according to a new studyout today.

New research into young people’s experiences of crimereveals that more than half think that crime does in fact pay -despite four in five being worried about becoming a victim of crimethemselves.

Norwich Union’s The Youth InsightReport shows that for many, the material benefits of crimeoutweigh the prospect of the consequences – even if it meanstime behind bars.

And while the Government steps up its attempts to tackle youthcrime, prison is still seen by teenagers as the most effectivedeterrent to crime. Fines, community service and parental pressurewere believed to offer minimal deterrence.

The study of young people aged between 13 and 19 reveals thatover a third accept that crime is part of their society and 40 percent admit to knowing someone who has committed a crime. And thisfigure doubles to 80 per cent in socially deprived parts ofBritain.

Gun crime, drug dealing and assault were considered the mostserious offences, whilst vandalism, shoplifting and mobile phonetheft were seen as the least severe.

Norwich Union’s ‘Youth Insight’ report alsoreveals:

  • While it’s common place to hear older generationsbemoaning the growing rise in crime, 85 per cent of teenagers alsobelieve that crime is getting worse
  • Peer pressure is seen as the most common reason for youngpeople turning to crime (41 per cent), followed closely by boredom(35 per cent)
  • Young people believe the police should be most active inreducing crime in their area (37 per cent) and a quarter believethat they themselves play a key role in reducing crime
  • Crime is felt to be a lifestyle choice for one in five youngpeople from socially deprived areas and 94 per cent of these teenshave been victims or know victims of crime
  • When asked who they most respected, the majority of youngpeople (64 per cent) named their parents. A quarter also considertheir parents to be their role models

Whilst young people maintain respect for their parents, theresearch highlighted the widening gulf between young and old.Almost eight in ten felt that older people were out of touch withthe younger generation. According to the majority of teenagers,adults are out of touch with young people once they reach 40. Andone in ten felt that anyone over the age of 20 was out oftouch.

Despite the prevalence of a supposed ‘gang culture’,85 per cent of young people questioned dismissed the idea that theybelonged to a gang, but simply claimed they had a group offriends.

The Youth InsightReport is a result of Norwich Union’s partnership withthe national crime reduction organisation, Crime Concern. Thepartnership has been responsible for launching the Norwich UnionApprenticeship Scheme, which has been set up to tackle crime at agrassroots level.

Three apprentices have recently been appointed in Chester,Birmingham and London. They are working with experienced CrimeConcern managers to implement crime reduction and drug educationprogrammes in low-income areas of the cities.

A key part of the apprentice brief is to work with young peopleto combat some of the frustrations and pressures that can lead tocrime. They will also act as a voice for teenagers within the localcommunity to ensure their concerns and recommendations are heardand acted upon.

By training local people to become neighbourhood apprenticeswithin their own communities, the scheme empowers individuals totackle crime in the areas that need it most.

Jill Willis, market development manager for Norwich UnionInsurance, said: “Teenagers are often easy targets for peopleattempting to explain the rise in crime and often dismissed as theproblem with society rather than seen as part of the solution.

“In funding the first of these Norwich Union apprentices,we will be responding directly to young people’s experiencesand fears and giving them the opportunity and forum to becomeinvolved in crime prevention measures at a grass roots level.

“As our research has shown, it is no longer sufficient tosolely rely on preventative measures to reduce crime. If teenagersare growing up believing that crime does pay, we need hands onapproaches like the apprenticeship scheme to offer alternative waysof thinking about and tackling crime.”

Chris Dyer, programme manager from Crime Concern added: "CrimeConcern is profoundly committed to getting young people, many ofwhom are at the core of the issue, to become problem solvers.Through the Norwich Union Apprenticeship Scheme we are able totarget some areas most in need and expanding this initiative toinclude young people is a step forward in making these estates asafer place to live."

- Ends -

Media contacts:
Charlotte Speedy or Matt Buchanan at
QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424
Jenny Chapman at
Norwich Union on 08703 666 864 or 07775 822 642

Notes to editors:

  • Norwich Union Insurance commissioned Brands & Issues tointerview 510 young people throughout the UK aged between 13-19 inJuly 2003. A further 138 interviews were conducted with youngpeople living in socially deprived areas in Chester, Hackney andBirmingham during August 2003.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer with a marketshare of around 16 per cent and is more than 1.5 times the size ofits nearest rival. It is also the largest personal linesinsurer.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in five motor vehicles
    • more than 700,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre at
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio qualitybroadcast.

Call the press office on 08703 66 68 68

For all life & pensions media enquiries call 08703 66 6873
For all other media enquiries call 08703 66 68 68

The Youth InsightReport

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