One in four teenage boys is a criminal, report says

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The Independent Online

One in four teenage boys under the age of 17 can be categorised as a prolific or serious offender, Home Office figures released yesterday indicated.

One in four teenage boys under the age of 17 can be categorised as a prolific or serious offender, Home Office figures released yesterday indicated.

The 2003 Crime and Justice Survey estimated there were 3.8 million "active offenders" ­ or 10 per cent of people in the 10 to 65 age group in England and Wales.

Only 1 per cent of offences resulted in a court appearance, the survey found. Just 2 per cent of the people questioned accounted for 82 per cent of all offences measured.

The latest British Crime Survey (BSC) also showed that althoughcrime is continuing to fall across England and Wales, violent offences recorded by the police have increased again.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, pledged yesterday to make the reduction in violent crime his main priority.

The BSC, which questions people living in private households, found that the total number of crimes from July to September last year dropped by 6 per cent compared with the same period in 2003.

The crime rate fell by 11 per cent in the year to September compared with the same period the year before.

But the number of recorded violent crimes continues to rise. Alcohol and particularly binge-drinking have been blamed. Firearms offences in the year to September also rose ­ up 5 per cent ­ to 10,670 incidents.

Mr Clarke said: "Violent crime is still the biggest challenge. It will be my number one priority to drive down violent crime." He insisted that it had fallen when the statistics were examined "in the round".

His argument was supported by the BSC, based on interviews with 40,000 adults, which found 9 per cent fewer violent crimes.