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Youth Crime in the UK, update laws, it may help to observe and learn from America.

Comment 5th September 2010


I have been living in the United States for ten years. I see the best and worst of both America and the UK.

I am writing regarding the increasing amount of youth crime in the UK, particularly regarding gang youth crime.

I wanted to let you know of American laws which deal directly with problems involving the youth.

In the U.S there is an Open Container Law. This means no one person is allowed to have an open container with alcohol out in public. I hope the U.K will adopt the same type of law or change the current alcohol or drunkenness in public places law. If you are drunk and out in public in America and you are loud or unruly, you will be arrested and booked into jail, you will definitely be paying a fine. Many American people choose to stay at home and party or get drunk, they know if they take to the streets it is not a very good idea at all. 

In the city's of America and in some towns, there are curfew's for youth. Youth must be off the streets by a certain time in the evening, such as ten pm, or else risk getting picked up by the patrolling Police and booked into jail and prosecuted and fined. The American Police Officer will pull-over in their police car and ask them where they have come from, what they are doing and where they are going. The U.K would cut crime by changing the current law.

There is a no loitering law in America especially for the youth. The youth are not allowed to congregate on the streets in numbers at all any time day or night. They will be asked by the Police where they have come from, what they are doing and where they are going, no matter what hour of the day or night. The American youth's are not allowed to congregate, loiter and stand outside of stores or buildings doing nothing at all, this is classed as loitering and has fines attached to it. 

Even if a number of youth are waiting for a bus at a bus stop a police officer will question them first then wait and make sure they board the bus. If they do not board the bus, they run the risk of receiving a fine for loitering.  

The legal drinking age in America is Twenty -One years old. This is an important law because it again would cut crime. In American bars and pubs the workers are very strict on this and will ask to see some form of identification to prove your age. This also applies to the purchasing in stores and grocery stores of any alcohol, beer or liqueur. Adults are asked for identification all of the time, to verify their age, it is a common practice and is expected. If an adult gives a youth alcohol (whether, a drink, a bottle of wine or a can of beer, they can expect very heavy sentencing in a court of law. It is a very serious offence in America and any adult doing this is taking a large risk upon themselves.

If a number of youth are walking along a street in America, a Police Officer will pull over and ask them where they have come from, what they are doing and where they are going. There is a law in America that youth in any numbers on the streets or in public places are not allowed. This relates to a gang culture which can be dangerous, which again is not stood for in America. 

In America there are Boot Camps. Many of the youth who have entered Boot Camps choose to join the Military. Boot Camps teach discipline and other skills to those who need to be disciplined and helped. The UK would do well to adopt the UK version of Boot Camps, something like Boot Camp for youths who have committed crime. 

In America their is a no hoody law. This means the youth are not allowed to be wearing their jumper hoods up anytime out in public places. This is so that the surveillance cameras in America will be able to see an offenders face if any crime happens to occur at any time. To go along with this no one in America is allowed to walk into a bank with a hat on or hoody or their face hidden in any way, sunglasses are not permitted either. They would immediately be told to remove it or leave the premises by a bank security guard. The culture is different in America and their has even been talk of bringing in a law which would not allow the wearing of trousers which hang way down below the waist of males exposing their rear underwear, to be worn out in public places.

In America if anyone hits or pushes or hurts a person in any way the police will be called and arrests will occur. It is illegal in America to lay hands on anyone in any harmful way.

Any damage, tampering or vandalism to any property committed by a youth in America would be treated criminally by the police. Even if a youth is suspected of damaging property they will be taken to a police station and questioned about it so the police can get to the bottom of the matter and find out who to charge. At the end of prosecution in America, there is always a fine, even if it entails jail time, or money to be paid to the authorities. 

Hopefully, if the UK changed it's current laws and looked at the American way of dealing with youth crime, some of the British public would not be afraid to walk to the corner store of an evening or night, especially on council estates. Something has to be changed. The old laws need to be changed and updated and new laws need to be bought in regarding youth crime.

An American recently told me in America – "If the youth are old enough to commit a crime, then they are old enough to be punished for that crime."

I do not believe most of the things I have mentioned here is heavy handed at all. The American youth usually obey the American laws. I do not see why the British youth would see a problem with these laws unless they have other unruly plans.

These youth crimes exist because the youth are usually bored in some way or another. Maybe because there are not enough social events for the youth to be involved in or attend in the area where they live. The British Government and Society needs to take a close look at this. More needs to be done to keep the British youth occupied and doing something meaningful in their lives. Youth need to have mentors when leaving school, to make sure they stay on the right path to help look after themselves, job wise and also socially, so that they do not turn to crime. The unemployment rate is high in both the UK and America. It is very difficult for the youth of today to find and keep a good job (the same for adults). They also have their youth peer pressure they must keep up with. Not forgetting all the images they see on the television, such as movies, adverts, violence, sex, swearing, it is no wonder then when you look at this, the youth are open and exposed to some bad things. They are very impressionable and want to have a good time and can not help to want to be like "That model" or "That action guy." 

It is very important that the local bobby (local policeman on the local beat) knows who the youth are in their area and can identify which youths have committed crime or have the potential risk of committing crime. Even if the youth have received a warning in America, this means told to "Move on" or "A go home now," message from an American Police Officer, it will all be recorded on computer in case of any future incidents.

American youths are usually too busy to be loitering outside of shops. They are too busy trying to find work in some way or another in order to survive. They sometimes have to pay their American parents for their keep also at age Eighteen or get told to leave home and find a job. So in some respects the British youth have it easy compared to the American youth who have a struggle to survive and make money for themselves in America. They usually go and work for the same company as their parents, but so many do not have this opportunity.

Even though the American culture and England's are different, I believe that if the two countries look at the way things are done in the other country and observe and learn from one another, perhaps life in general for both countries public's would become better and more improved. Both countries do not need to adopt the exact same laws as one another but to study how things are done and who has the best methods to adopt on individual issues. 

To sum up, I observe that the American ways are sometimes heavy handed when dealing with the youth. In the UK in some ways it is too soft when dealing with the youth.

The legal industry in America is very healthy because of some of the youth who break these laws.

A telephone bank needs to be set up so that any person who has been threatened, abused, sworn at, spit at, attacked, shoved or pushed, or had property damaged or vandalized, by any youth on the streets of the UK, they should have a special number to call to report it in case they are too afraid to report it to the police in fear of retaliation.

Why does this matter?


UK then it needs to be addressed by the British Government on ways to deal with it. Continuing to let gang youths intimidate abuse, threaten or attack the public is unacceptable.

America deals with youth crime. I think if the UK observed and looked at America and observed the way in which they deal with youth crime then perhaps the UK would cut youth crime and at the same time help the legal industry and also create British jobs where people are mentors to the youth.

UK would observe and learn from America how they deal with youth crime. Also America would do well to look to the UK on certain other issues.

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