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Safety inMaastricht

Young people nuisance and problems

Nuisance caused by young people, often in groups, can range from mild to more serious nuisance from noise nuisance, an intimidating presence, and leaving litter to vandalism, etc.

Police figures
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 1st half year
Vandalism/Hooliganism 114 92 86 78 77 93 33
Reports of young people nuisance 265 259 326 377 440 355 344
Safety monitor
2014 2015 2016 2017 2019
% Loitering young people: great nuisance [%] 8.8 8.7 6.4 7.2 5.9
% Good facilities for young people: (totally) agree [%] 20.5 21.0 24.0 21.1 22.2

Young people nuisance relates primarily to low-level and high-level nuisance caused by groups of young people. This nuisance can be in the form of noise nuisance, intimidating behaviour, leaving litter behind and, on occasion, vandalism and other forms of criminality. Groups causing low-level nuisance can, in principle, readily be approached and corrected by others in the surroundings. Groups causing high-level nuisance have a more hierarchical organization and are more difficult to correct; they are also much more likely to commit petty offences.

The ‘young people problem’ issue relates primarily to individual problem young people. Young people with problems in more habitats who are often also persistent offenders. They can form the hard core of groups of young people, sometimes even criminal groups. They have what is referred to as ‘complex casuistry’, which requires an integral person-oriented approach (where relevant, a Top X approach).

Police reports indicate an upward trend in young people nuisance, although the Safety Monitor findings suggest that the nuisance caused by loitering young people has remained largely unchanged over the past years. It is possible that this could be due to a much greater inclination to report persistent nuisance concentrated in specific locations: the same persons may then report nuisance several times, which will increase the number of records. The Safety Monitor is based on a random selection of residents.

Studies also reveal that the number of juvenile suspects has declined in the past years, which, in common with frequently occurring crime, is also a national trend. This decline could be explained by the arrival of game computers and smartphones that result in young people spending more time indoors and less time outdoors. They are then less likely to be swayed by criminal friends and have fewer opportunities to commit impulsive offences. The relationship between dropping out of school and crime suggests that the declining number of school dropouts is contributing to the declining number of juvenile suspects.

An explanation of the changes in juvenile delinquency requires a study of changes at microlevel. A trend study, De daling in jeugddelinquentie: minder risico, meer bescherming (the decline in juvenile delinquency, less risk and more protection) concluded that a number of simultaneous developments contribute to the decline in criminality. The study concludes that the decline in juvenile delinquency could be explained by the simultaneous changes in exposure to risk factors and protective factors in several life domains. More specifically, this relates to less exposure to risk factors such as alcohol consumption or delinquent friends and to increased experience with protective factors, especially within the family context, such as a perceived increase in the emotional support provided by parents together with parental involvement and monitoring. The developments are indicative of a sociocultural attitude that is changing over time, both on the part of young people and their parents, who dissuade continually increasing numbers of young people from exhibiting risk-taking behaviour.

A great deal is known about the factors that are related to delinquency during adolescence (Loeber et al., 2008; Tanner-Smith et al., 2013). Risk factors in the individual domain include factors such as earlier problem behaviour, alcohol consumption or drugs use, impulsiveness, and a willingness to take risks (Loeber et al., 2008). Conversely, socially skilled behaviour and a good ability to focus on tasks are protective factors (Pollard et al., 1999). In the family domain poor upbringing, such as children suffering from neglect or domestic violence, increases the risk of delinquency (Loeber et al., 2008). Delinquency, on the other hand, is attenuated by emotional support and supervision provided by parents (Hoeve et al., 2009), children’s openness towards their parents (Hoeve et al., 2009; Stattin & Kerr, 2000), and good ties with parents (Hoeve et al., 2012).

Delinquency in the friends domain is an important risk factor for personal delinquency (Loeber et al., 2008). In the school domain, poor school performance (Maguin & Loeber, 1996) and poor ties with the school are risk factors, whilst ties with teaching staff can offer protection (Stouthamer-Loeber et al., 2002).

Account needs to be taken of a number of elements that can cause delinquent behaviour and result in young people nuisance and criminality. An insight into the causes of specific young people behaviour is of value in the determination of measures that can be effective in keeping nuisance within acceptable limits and in preventing young people from slipping into more serious forms of criminal behaviour. Insights obtained from lifespan criminology can prove worthwhile when reviewing these measures. The life-course theory of T.E. Moffitt (1993) will then be of value. According to this theory there are 2 types of delinquency: Life-Course-Persistent (LCP) delinquency and Adolescence-Limited (AL) delinquency. A number of empirical studies have confirmed this theory.

The above reveals that there are a number of intervention opportunities and times for measures intended to curb young people nuisance and criminal behaviour. Measures that reinforce protective factors and eliminate or mitigate risk factors are then determinative.

Jong, J. de (2018), Het mysterie van de verdwenen criminaliteit, Den Haag: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek Weblink

Laan, A. van der, Rokven, J., Weijters, G. & Beerthuizen, M. (2018), De daling in jeugddelinquentie: minder risico, meer bescherming, Tijdschrift voor Criminologie, 60 (1), 35-57 Weblink

Moffitt, T.E. (1993), Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior – a developmental taxonomy, Psychological Review 100, 674-702 PDF