Frequency and severity of offending by young people in New Zealand: Descriptive analysis and development of a predictive model
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Youth offending is an increasingly major problem in many countries and cultures. Several theories imply that a subset of young people display delinquent behaviour at a young age and go on to have an extensive and serious criminal career. Recently, there has been interest in the literature in identifying these young people early on and carrying out interventions in order to deter them from a criminal career. Many studies have examined the development and usefulness of actuarial measures of risk of future violence or recidivism in adult offenders. However, the same attention has not been paid to the youth offender population. The present study gathered data from the population (N = 4307) of all young persons in New Zealand whose antisocial behaviour resulted in a Youth Justice intake from the Department of Child, Youth, and Family (CYF) in 2002. Information was obtained about this population from the CYF database, CYRAS, and from the Police National Intelligence Application database for a stratified random sample (N = 500). Three models were developed using Hierarchical Cox regression to predict recidivism, and they each used a different definition of recidivism. The performance of the models was assessed using ROC analysis and they were found to predict recidivism with a moderately good level of accuracy. A validation sample (N = 500), different from the sample on which the models were developed, was used to further assess the performance of the models by showing that they were able to generalize to a new data set and continue to perform at an adequate level. An actuarial model, like the one developed in the present study, could be used to help make decisions about which young people within the Youth Justice System require intervention in order to reduce the likelihood of subsequent reoffending.