The new politics of youth crime
Discipline or solidarity
By John Pitts

"Since the 1960s, governments, originally of the right but latterly of the 'left', have usually been more interested in 'youth crime' as a political issue than youth crime per se. More recently, 'youth crime', and the fear of it, has emerged in Anglo-American politics as a kind of electoral glue. On the one hand, fear of youth crime can bind together an otherwise disparate band of electors into a new 'post-industrial' political constituency that transcends traditional class affiliations. On the other, it may be used to repair rifts within political parties, generating an impression of unity and common purpose." John Pitts

The New Politics of Youth Crime, written by one of the UK's leading commentators on the policy and practice of youth justice:
  • Accounts for the centrality of youth crime to the New Labour project
  • Analyses New Labour's youth justice strategy and its articulation in the youth justice provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) and subsequent legislation
  • Critically dissects the theories of crime and methods of intervention which underpin the Act, suggesting that it is their political fit with a 're-moralising political agenda, rather than their explanatory power of rehabilitative bite', which account for their current popularity
  • Contrasts the real problems of youth crime in the UK at the turn of the century with the problems identified by the criminology of the Third Way, and offers an exhaustive analysis of the worsening predicament of the growing band of 'lower class' young people, trapped at the bottom of the social structure who are most likely to be drawn into the youth justice system.
  • Locates their plight within the erosion of political and civic solidarity that is deepening social divisions, exacerbating social exclusion and, amongst other things, fostering youth crime.
  • Drawing upon research undertaken in France in the 1990, outlines an alternative youth crime prevention strategy rooted in an attempt to establish solidarity with estranged young people rather than simply impose discipline upon them.

  • Originally published in hardback by Palgrave (ISBN: 0333692012) this is the first paperback edition, and is revised and updated.

    Paperback. 208 pages. 978-1-903855-23-2. Published 2003. £16.95.


    The disciplinary tradition
    New Labour and the criminology of the Third Way
    Hard Labour
    Locking-up children
    The confrontation with consequences
    The development of discernment
    After the goldrush
    The erosion of solidarity
    Discipline or solidarity: a tale of two housing estates.


    John Pitts is Vauxhall Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, The University of Luton and Director of the Vauxhall Centre for the Study of Crime


    "An alternative youth crime strategy rooted in an attempt to establish solidarity with estranged young people, rather than merely imposing discipline upon them." ChildRIGHT.

    "Well-argued and accessible reader for anyone involved with children and young people who offend; it is not just for criminologists. It explains elegantly how and why the youth justice system is as it is today, and argues that the political and organisational structure of youth crime is deepening social exclusion, creating more divisions in society and sucking more and more petty offenders into the criminal justice system..' Care & Health.

    "Compelling reading… absorbing and thought-provoking." Youth Justice

    ."A tour de force… a reminder that if demands to conform to social norms are to be made of young people, it is necessary to ensure they experience obvious benefits from doing so.' Community Care

    .Offers a memorable explication of "the emergent history of political strategies to address youth crime" and the concern that "far from preventing youth crime, the youth justice system will suck more and more petty young offenders into its orbit... the sections on restorative justice and theories of delinquent development are very good." Howard Williamson, The Youth Justice Board of England and Wales, writing in Young People Now.

    "This is by far the most sophisticated analysis of youth crime and its politics available today. It is written with wit, perceptiveness and precision. How many books on criminology make you, at one moment, laugh out loud at the preposterous policies aimed at controlling youth crime and, at the next, rush for your notebook to get down a perfect quote that sums up the shambles and the misperceptions which dog youth justice." Jock Young Professor of Sociology at Middlesex University and Visiting Professor of Criminology at City University of New York Graduate School.