Policing Young Offenders: Do Youth Squads Matter?

Jennifer L. Schulenberg, University of Waterloo

This paper examines the utility and effect of a youth squad on police decision-making with young offenders in Canada. Findigns are based on interview data and statistics from the Canadian Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey. 202 in-depth interviews were conducted with approximately 300 officers in all locations of service (patrol, investigators, youth squad officers, school liaison officers, and management). The sample is geographically representative (all provinces and territories), incorporates all community types (rural/small town, suburban/exurban, and metropolitan), and includes over 100 police agencies and detachments. The data suggest that police agencies with youth squads and/or dedicated youth officers respond differently, and more effectively, to youth-related incidents. Specifically, it appears that the use of referrals to external agencies, pre-charge diversion, views on feedback from alternative measures, the use of formal charges, and the methods used to compel appearance in court are different for police agencies that have a youth squad.

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Updated 05/20/2006