Source: (2005) Oxford and Portland Oregon: Hart Publishing.

Youth justice is a key area of the current government’s criminal justice policy in England and Wales. It has been the subject of an inordinate amount of recent legislation seeking to enhance the criminal courts powers to punish and prevent offending through criminal justice measures to achieve the same result. This book seeks to challenge that focus and to question why delinquency in young people has been so firmly criminalized in this jurisdiction. The book addresses the consequences of criminalization in terms of the effectiveness of the measures used as well as the implications for the social construction of youth and childhood and our attitudes towards the young. Criminalisation of young people’s behaviour results in them being labelled as criminal, losing identity as an individual, losing their childhood through the process of taking adult responsibility for their actions and, in policy terms, becoming viewed as a crime problem rather than as a product of failing social policy regarding employment, education and youth culture. At a society level it is contended that the identification of young people with criminal activity and the negative public image that results creates a culture of fear and distrust which may in turn create further possibilities for criminalisation of their behaviour. A comparative perspective in this work examines responses to youth crime in other jurisdictions and questions whether the criminal justice process is an appropriate context in which to deal with young people’s problematic behaviour. (publisher’s abstract). Chapter 8 addresses restorative justice.