Education Policy and Youth Crime in England

This unique dataset will link English school and crime records from 2002, making it the largest dataset of its kind to contain education and crime records for young people. Crime and education experts aim to use the data to investigate what, if any, impact education policy initiatives have had on the levels and nature of crime committed and experienced by young people in England.

The project

The project will involve three steps:

  1. Understanding the impact of the introduction of the Literacy and Numeracy Hour programmes in the late 1990s on youth crime and permanent exclusion from school. Literacy and Numeracy Hour programmes were rolled out nationally to all English schools through the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies (NLS and NNS). These initiatives aimed to raise the standards of English teaching and to improve the literacy and numeracy standards of primary school children.
  2. Analysing the impact of the recent school leaving age reforms on youth crime in England. Since the early 1970s, the school leaving age in England was 16 until it was raised to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015. Currently, English children must stay in school until age 16, upon which they can either enrol in vocational training, an apprenticeship or remain in school until age 18. A novel feature of these reforms is they were not implemented at the same time across England. This project will exploit this variation to study the impact of these reforms on youth crime.
  3. Examining the impact of secondary school attendance on the day-to-day opportunity and desire to commit crime. Schools have the power to independently decide when to hold a teacher training (INSET) day, meaning natural variation exists between schools and across years in the dates when children and young people are allowed to stay home from school. Data will be collected on INSET dates for all secondary schools in England to examine whether young people are more likely to commit crime when schooling is off. This will allow us to understand whether just a few days off from school can influence the risk of committing crime, and therefore whether policy should intervene accordingly.

What is the potential of this newly linked data?

The focus of this project is on the potential crime-reducing role of education policy and public education providers. The project will provide rigorous empirical evidence of the impact of recent UK education policy on youth crime for all young people in England. Therefore, no particular groups of young people will constitute the focus of this analysis, nor be identified as individuals at risk by either the public or the police.

The project team is working closely with the Greater Manchester Police to ensure findings are as relevant and useful as possible to policymakers, police forces and other service delivery professionals focusing on increased crime rates over the last five years. The aim of this project is to help inform policies and initiatives that reduce the likelihood of young people either becoming involved in crime or being victims of crime, and to reduce the impact of youth crime on individuals, families and communities.

Project details

Project lead: Dr Matteo Sandi, LSE

Duration: February 2021 – April 2022

Funding: £149,100.74

This project is funded via the ADR England Fund, a dedicated fund for commissioning research using newly linked administrative data.

Categories: Data linkage programmes, ADR England, Children & Young People, Crime & Justice

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