University of Salford to undertake largest survey of children’s experiences of crime in Britain

Categories: School of Health and Society

A new project from the University of Salford is aiming to undertake the most comprehensive ever survey of children’s offending and victimisation in Britain.  

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the study will help researchers understand the extent and context of children’s involvement with offending and antisocial behaviour, both online and offline.  

It will be the first such national self-report survey for seven years – providing policymakers, practitioners and the public with a vital insight into antisocial behaviour in contemporary Britain, including cyber-bullying, sexual harassment, and lockdown non-compliance.   

The study will contribute data to an international study, which will allow comparisons with more than 30 other countries around the world. It will also mean researchers can directly compare the current generation’s self-reported offline offending with levels observed in a previous survey in England/Scotland in 2014/15.  

Professor Neal Hazel, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Salford will lead the project. He says: “This is an incredibly important piece of research which will inform policymakers, practitioners and the public about youth offending and victimisation. We hope it will help ensure positive outcomes for children who have been involved in and/or found themselves victims of offending.” 

The survey will recruit 4500 children aged 13-17 years old, drawn from two separate samples via both educational institutions and the internet. Data will be analysed anonymously.  

The educational sample will involve 1800 children from two large urban areas (one in England and one in Scotland), and a further 900 children from several rural counties (including in Wales). Children will be sampled by year 9-12 classes, randomly selected from schools, pupil referral units and colleges in each area, with the questionnaire conducted online while in school. The internet sample will involve a further 1800 children (aged 16-17yrs) completing a shorter questionnaire.  

The questionnaire captures children’s involvement as victims and offenders in a range of online and offline behaviours, including those highlighted by the Covid-19 lockdown. It is also designed to help understand the power and structural contexts for behaviours and victimisation, including questions on inequalities and disempowerment.  

Rob Street, Director of Justice at the Nuffield Foundation said: “Crime committed by and against children is an important area of public and policy concern. We are very pleased to be funding this study which will provide critical information on the current nature and extent of offending and victimisation among teenagers. The study has the real potential to inform both policy and practice, and aligns with the Nuffield Foundation’s interests in youth justice and the broader social well-being of children and young people.” 

The research project runs for 36 months from January 2021 to December 2023, with the international review published in 2022 and the survey results reported from 2023 onwards.  

For all press office enquiries please email Helen Jones at h.m.jones@salford.ac.uk.