Poverty is the Main ‘Cause’ of Youth Violent Crime in London……

A recent 2019 study into the causes of violent crime in London found that the proportion of children under 20 living in poverty was the main factor correlated with levels youth violent crime in London Boroughs.

This is an important update for the A-level Sociology Crime and Deviance module.

The study was conducted in 2019 by the Greater London Authority, and it took a public health approach to analysing the ’causes’ of increasing levels of youth violence in London from 2013-2017.

Defining and measuring violent crime

The study took a broad, multi agency approach to defining and measuring violent crime. ‘mapping’ their definitions of violent crimes here:

They also used many different sources to identify the upward trend in violent crime, such as hospital admissions for knife attacks, given that so many of these go unreported…

If you know anything about London, it’s already obvious from this chart that it’s the poorest areas such as Hackney and Croydon with the highest rates of youth violence, and the richest areas such as Chelsea with the lowest…

The main ’causes’ of youth violence

The study did a borough wide analysis, as the stats for violent crime were by borough, and found that all of the boroughs in the top ten for youth violent crime also had above average amounts of under 20 year olds living in poverty.

The main factors correlated with youth violence, in order of importance were as follows:

Relevance to A-level sociology

This is a useful update for social class and crime: poverty may only be one aspect of social class, but this study does suggest that more violent crime is committed by the working classes.

This study seems to offer broad support for Left Realism – deprivation and marginalisation register as being highly correlated with levels of youth violence.

Limitations of this study

  • Already, two years on, the data is four years old, as it only goes up 2019. In this online age, this should have been organised via an Artificial Intelligence so the data is updating automatically!
  • This only focuses on Youth violence, not crime more generally, so it is not representative of all crime.
  • Marxists might criticise the study as having narrow definitions of violence, focussing only on street violence and domestic violence, rather than the state-sponsored military violence instigated from the borough of Westminster.
  • This study might be a little biased – it seems to be coming from a Left Realist Perspective on crime, and (funnily enough) supports a Left Realist view of crime!

References

You can read the full report here: Progressing a Public Health Approach to Reducing Violence, 2019.

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