Tuesday, 6 March 2012

At least a third of Britain's baby boomers are criminals

It is not easy to find statistics that that neatly captures the extent of criminality in Britain. Over the last decade or so, data on the number of offences has been regularly revised and redefined. This rejigging of numbers has made recent crime data a shade unreliable.

Last year, the Ministry of Justice, produced a report that gets very close to identifying the cultural significance of the crime wave that hit Britain in the latter decades of the 20th century. Their 2010 report "Conviction histories of Offenders between the ages of 10 and 52", provided a series of extraordinary statistics for the number of adults convicted of crimes enumerated on the Ministry's "standard list" of offences. The report  provided some incredible insights into the social norms of the generation that is now in their 50s - the baby boomers.

To start,  we need to clarify what is meant by the the standard list of offences. This list covers all the big ticket crimes. It also includes any crime that is indictable or subject to trial. For example, driving without insurance and common assault would qualify for the standard list.

We will ask the easy question first; what proportion of adults in England and Wales are convicted criminals? In 2006, the last year covered by the study, around 15 per cent of people between the ages of 10 and 52 in England and Wales had at least one conviction. The number for men was males is 24 per cent and for females 6 per cent. In other words, a quarter of the male population had found themselves in court and convicted at least once. Those are pretty big numbers. Britain isn't exactly a nation of law abiders.

The report then asked a second, much more revealing question; what proportion of men who were 53 in 2006 - that is to say, men born in 1959 - had a conviction. The number was a third. Just over half of these had been convicted on only one occasion and 18 per cent had been convicted more than 5 times. For women the number is 9 percent with 5 percent having five or more convictions.

From that cohort of men aged 53, take a guess at the proportion that had been convicted of a crime before they reached the age of 18. In other words, what proportion were juvenile offenders. Brace yourself, this number is a shocking; it is 14 percent. Roll the clock forward, and ask the same question about the cohort born in 1988. The answer is just 7.8 percent.

Are people born in the late 1980s less likely to commit an offence than someone born in the 1950s? The tentative evidence suggests that they are. First, we need to acknowledge attitudes of the police towards youth offenders. During the early 1970s, the justice system began treating the young more leniently. The police made far greater use of cautions rather than convictions.  This suggests that recent juvenile conviction rates might be understated.

Nevertheless, recent crime data suggest that today's youngsters might be a little better behaved than their elders. Crime starts to increase in the 1960s and rises dramatically from the 1970s onward. This is around the time that the 1953 generation starts to enter their early teens. Offences peaks in the early 2000s and then starts to fall. This is around the time that the generation born in 1988 become young adults.

Britain's crime statistics are appalling. However, there is perhaps an undue emphasis on the young offenders. Earlier generations also behaved badly. The boomers were particularly prone to criminal activity. Moreover, a large proportion of boomers had been tangling with the law when they were young.

This crime data emphasises a deep truth about the baby boomers. They have always behaved disgracefully.

As teenagers, the boomers maligned and insulted their parents. When they turned to creative activities, they coughed up  a corpus of nihilistic and indulgent art. Unconvinced? Just listen to the musical carnage of the Sex Pistols are the Clash. Then go down  and have a look at the dross that infests the Tate Modern.  They produced this rubbish while indulging in prodigious levels of substance abuse.

However, bad behaviour didn't stop there. As young adults, many of the boomers rejected the cultural and religious heritage of their country, and derided its historical achievements.

When they grew a little older, many of them refused the responsibilities of family, marriage, and parenthood, leaving their offspring, insofar as they produced any,  bereft of stability. They explained their hedonistic lifestyles with tawdry claims that  a social revolution was underway and that the nuclear family was outdated and unnecessary.

By the time they reached their forties, they were blowing up the economy with an unparallelled explosion of personal debt. When they had taken over the reins of power, they constructed an unsustainable social welfare system.  Almost as quickly as you could say EU Treaty, they handed over sovereignty to Boomer bureaucrats in Brussels.  They brought our our great Union to the edge of disintegration. While we are on the subject of boomer politicians, it was not an accident of history that the MP expenses scandal happened in the late 2000s,  Check out the ages of the typical offenders.  The majority of those cheating expense fiddling MPs were in their fifties.

In 10 years time, the bulk of the baby boomer generation will have retired. They want the rest of us to fund their retirement.  They will ask us at a time when government indebtedness will have reached levels unseen outside of war time.  Objectively, there is something deeply dishonest about running up a huge public debt stock to pay for public services and expecting the next generation to clear those debts.

We shouldn't be surprised.  As the Justice department data report powerfully illustrates, the Boomer generation have an unenviable record of dishonesty


davidb said...

LOL. Mea Culpa. I was a Clash fan - well up until I went backstage and realised they werent so intelligent as I thought. And I do like lots of modern art - but haven't been to Tate so maybe thats where the really bad stuff is kept. And I detest the police, but they lost my support wnen as teenagers they used to harrass us with our old cars and our sweary word button badges, and in truth I only ever see them where they are not wanted, being overbearing arses with a negative attitude to public service.

Never had a conviction however. But with all the new laws restricting free speech and criminalising everything that the government can raise money by fining you for that is truely surprising.

Maybe our younger generation are less in trouble because they are staying in their rooms getting plump playing video games and eating their parents fridge contents. Or maybe its that the Police are back at the station filling in forms instead of harrassing the odd fat kid waddling to the local chinese ( we just had chippys when I was young ).

Yup, Im a badass 50 year old. And proud :)

Anonymous said...

The murder rate has been going up since 1960. If you factor in medical advances then it is probably 4 times higher now.

Certain ethnic groups also commit a massively disproportionate amount of crime.

Captain Ranty said...

Some of the baby boomer criminals now do both crime and uphold decency at the same time.

Nothing to declare sir!!

Anonymous said...

If I had my way the murder rate would soar, immediately, by a factor of 650.

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Electro-Kevin said...

If you won't work for the 'Boomers' they'll just import a little foreigner who will.

There's very little you can do about it.

Electro-Kevin said...

PS - Many young people are doing far better than a lot of boomers.

Those savvy enough to get into the City and others savvy enough to trade in property. What stopped you ?

Sure. The days of a 'job for life' and a family home *guaranteed* are over.

I'm as sorry about that as you seem to be.

Anonymous said...

Yes most MP expense fiddling was done by 50 year olds, mabe something to do with the fact that most MP's are 50 year olds. They represent a huge percentage of MP's and so will represent a huge percent of Fiddlers, doesn't excuse the fiddling though just pointing out that it is nor and even age distribution there.
As to the current 50 year olds expecting the youngsters to provide them with a pension. We have saved for our pensions but in most cases been robbed by all political parties and the Bank of England. Both MP's and BOE members have made sure their pension is OK whilst they merrily water mine down and destroy any savings I have. So who is going to pay for my old age I have been robbed, are you going to hold the gun to shoot me or what?

Grumpy old git

RenterGirl said...

Those Clash loving substance abusing bankers are unconvicted criminals: and they are ruining this country. Alice - this post is so unlike you: are you trying to wind us all up? The Tate is full of fine work, not all of it to my taste. The cultural industries are a tourist pull and boost the nations profile. Nobody is forced to go there. Art and The Clash was an expression of alienation felt by a class bedevilled by patrician tories (and posh labourites too!) not a cause.

Alice Cook said...

Renter girl

Maybe a little bit....


Bill said...

Obviously elementary arithmetic is not your strong-suit ;)

Someone born in 1959 would be 53 today in 2012, give or take.

Someone who was 53 in 2006 (as mentioned in your article) would have been born in 1953 approximately.

I gave up reading your article once I realised it contained such a glaring error.

Good luck though :)

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Well you speak for yourself, madam - or whoever it is you imagine you speak for.

Personally, I have paid all my taxes for nearly forty years, I have no convictions - not even any parking fines or speeding tickets - my pension is fully funded, and I own my house outright.

So to hell with your sweeping generalisations; I don't want or need any handouts, I've earned my retirement, and I'm going to enjoy it.

No guilt here.

Colin Hall said...

I always think that these kinds of statistics are a little dubious. Firstly we should consider the amount of 'new' crimes that have been added to our statute books over the past 60 plus years and then take into account target led policing, which results in far higher levels of convictions that prior to the 1960's.

All in all ... Statistics are great for the newspapers to report, but are no help to the little old lady who is having her windows broken every night and is being told that there's nothing that the police can do to help her.

RenterGirl said...

Alice: well it worked that winding up! I knew of s law student who was technically a convicted criminal having been convicted of stealing a bike as a teenager. It was the usual: he'd been present, but had been advised to plead guilty. Another in a similar situation had turned his life around after car vandalism, but many years later nearly lost the right to emigrate to Australia. Criminals change. Even really bad ones.