Full-time education until 18 is contributing to rising crime, claims police chief


Full-time education until 18 is contributing to rising crime because ‘poor-quality’ courses don’t keep pupils off the streets, claims police chief

  • Dave Thompson asked Ofsted to look into sixth form colleges and their courses 
  • Number of homicides among 16 to 24-year-olds has risen 75% since new law  
  • Other factors which have caused the surge in knife crime include social media

Keeping children in full-time education until the age of 18 is contributing to rising crime figures, according to a police chief. 

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, believes there may be a link between raising the age children are allowed to leave school and the recent surge in violent crime. 

He has asked Ofsted to look into sixth form colleges which run courses that don’t have enough contact hours – leaving teenagers to roam the streets in their free time.

Keeping children in full-time education until the age of 18 is contributing to rising crime figures, according to a police chief. Stock picture

Keeping children in full-time education until the age of 18 is contributing to rising crime figures, according to a police chief. Stock picture 

In 2008 it was made illegal to leave education or training before the age of 18 without undertaking an apprenticeship. 

The changes didn’t come into effect until 2015 and it was the first time the law in that area had changed since 1972.  

The number of homicides among 16 to 24-year-olds has risen by 75 per cent since 2015, from 87 in a year to 152. 

Arrests for the possession of weapons have gone up by 28 per cent since 2015 in children aged 10-17 and 18-20, according to Home Office data seen by The Telegraph.  

Mr Thompson told The Telegraph: ‘Let’s be really honest, the neighbourhoods where the violence happens and the young people affected are most likely to be in deprived areas. Many of those people do not have the qualifications to necessarily be securing some of the better apprenticeships.’

He believes that because young people don’t enter the workplace until they’re 18, they aren’t maturing fast enough – especially young men. 

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson (pictured with Boris Johnson and Priti Patel), believes there may be a link between raising the age children are allowed to leave school and the recent surge in violent crime

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson (pictured with Boris Johnson and Priti Patel), believes there may be a link between raising the age children are allowed to leave school and the recent surge in violent crime

He added: ‘They are much closer to adulthood but they’re not socialising with many older people and growing up by relationships through work. In the old days, people would be in a factory they’d tend to be working much older people.’

While Mr Thompson admits that he doesn’t have any ’empirical evidence’ to prove the link, he has continued to question it. 

He believes that the explosion in knife crime is, in part, down to a lack of maturity and inability to deal with conflicts. 

Mr Thompson believes that because young people don't enter the workplace until they're 18, they aren't maturing fast enough - especially young men

Mr Thompson believes that because young people don’t enter the workplace until they’re 18, they aren’t maturing fast enough – especially young men

He also takes issue with how much time teenagers are actually spending in the classroom. 

‘The amount of time they’re actually in face to face time in class, warrants some examination by bodies like Ofsted, because I actually think the class time is fairly low,’ he said.

‘They are not accessing money legitimately or quickly. So the appeal of fast money and the drugs market can be there.’

He added that other factors which have caused the surge in knife crime include the normalisation of violence in music, social media and cuts to youth services.   

A Government spokesperson told the Telegraph: ‘Young people have a choice about how they continue in education or training post-16. This can be through a job combined with study, via full-time education or through an apprenticeship.

‘Engagement in education is a strong protective factor against the risk of involvement in serious violence.

‘Issues surrounding crime and serious violence are complicated, and we are working with the education and care sectors, the Home Office and other departments to support young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence.’

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