Trends in Juvenile Crime

Juvenile crime was lower in the period from 2015 to 2020 than in the fifteen years prior to that. There is no evidence that overall juvenile crime is becoming more severe in the long term. However, there are some concerning developments. For example, more juveniles are involved in weapon incidents and serious violent crime. Additionally, more juveniles have been convicted of cybercrime. The Juvenile Crime Monitor 2020 provides insight into these and other trends of juvenile crime through a comprehensive description of trends and developments based on a variety of sources.

Last update: May 2021

Top 10 Findings from the Juvenile Crime Monitor 2020

Does the decline in juvenile crime continue?

The Juvenile Crime Monitor 2020 reveals that the (annual) decline in juvenile crime began in 2007/2008. This decline appeared to stagnate in 2018/2019, but in 2020, most forms of juvenile crime once again portrayed a decrease. However, 2020 may have its own effect on juvenile crime due to COVID-19 measures. Therefore, it is too early to conclude whether the longstanding decline in juvenile crime has stopped, stagnated, or reversed.

Trends in juvenile crime for minors and adolescents in the period 2000-2022

Graph developments juvenile crime
Image: ©WODC
*** Registered suspect statistics are preliminary; self-report data is limited to the first quarter of 2020. Sources: self-reported offending = MZJ; registered suspects = BVH; convicted offenders = OBJD.

Slight Increase in Convictions for Serious Offenses

The Juvenile Crime Monitor 2020 provides no indications that overall juvenile crime is becoming more severe. Instead, a relatively higher proportion of juveniles are referred to a Halt intervention as an alternative, extrajudicial measure, primarily for less severe forms of criminal activity. However, since 2017, there has been a slight increase in juvenile offenders convicted by the courts for more serious forms of juvenile crime, including violent incidents. Additionally, offenses involving complex cybercrime intertwined with traditional forms of crime have increased. Examples include extortion following a DDoS attack or using a weapon in a threatening manner to obtain login codes and subsequently engaging in hacking. These offenses have a significant impact on both victims and society, which emphasizes the need for close monitoring. Concurrently, in recent years, law enforcement and prosecution have increased their focus on subversive and cybercrime. The police have also altered their registration practices, whereby they now separately record interconnected offenses.

Developments Across the Criminal Justice Chain

The statistics in the Juvenile Crime Monitor 2020 provide insights into the criminal justice system chain. This reveals a clear funnel effect from the proportion of minors (aged 12-18) that self-report engagement in traditional offending, versus the proportion of minors registered as suspects, versus the proportion of minors subjected to a sanction or measure imposed by the Public Prosecution Service or the courts.

The diagram below illustrates this funnel effect for minors, with a comparison between 2015 and 2019/20. A similar funneling process is also present among adolescents (aged 18-23) (not shown in the diagram).

Funnel Effect throughout the Criminal Justice Chain, compared between 2015 and 2019/2020

Delinquent minors per 1.000 peers in 2015 and 2019/2020 and percent change since 2015

Multiple sources collectively provide a comprehensive perspective

A significant proportion of offenses committed by juveniles remains unknown to the police and the judiciary. This is referred to as the 'dark number.' Therefore, individuals aged 10 to 23 are asked about the offenses they commit. This self-reported offending behavior primarily pertains to lighter, more common offenses. A large proportion of these offenses goes unnoticed and does not result in prosecution.

Additionally, data from official authorities provide insights into the developments of the total group of juveniles that come in contact with the police and the criminal justice system.The police, for instance, record information about minors and adolescents suspected of a crime. Data on penalties and (alternative) sanctions and measures for juvenile suspects come from the Public Prosecution Service and the courts.

Based on all these sources combined, the Juvenile Crime Monitor provides a broad and nuanced perspective on the developments in juvenile crime. These trends are described for various population groups (by age, demographic characteristics, family characteristics), for different geographical areas (neighborhoods, municipalities, and internationally), and for various types of offenses (including serious violent offenses). In addition to traditional crime that is mainly committed in the physical ('offline') world, changes over time in cybercrime and digitized crime are also described based on self-reported offending, registered police data, and verdicts.

Summer 2024: New JCM

The next edition of the full Juvenile Crime Monitor will be published after the summer of 2024. In the meantime, ongoing developments in subgroups will be examined and published online. For example, concerning characteristics of juvenile suspects in police data or convicted juvenile offenders.