Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Among Prolific Young Robbery Offenders in London: Targeting Treatment for Desistance?
jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:sec jats:titleResearch Question</jats:title> jats:pHow prevalent are various types of adverse childhood experiences among prolific young robbery offenders in London, with what implications for treatment and desistance of these people from serious offending?</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleData</jats:title> jats:pOf the 1249 suspects under 26 years of age who were arrested for robberies in London in 2019, 81 (6.5%) of them had been arrested for four or more robberies, totalling 24% of all robbery arrests of that age group (465 out of 1936). Of those 81 arrestees, 65 of them (80%) percent had used a knife or threatened with a knife to commit their crime. In total, the 81 had criminal histories as suspects in 939 offences covering 34 offence types, most commonly theft from person (201), possession of drugs (164) and violence with injury (89).</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleMethods</jats:title> jats:pThis study gathered extensive life history data for the 81, with a special emphasis on adverse childhood experiences (ACE) including criminal victimisation by parents or other adults. The analysis compares the prevalence of ACE in the most prolific young robbery suspects to prevalence in general population samples.</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleFindings</jats:title> jats:pThe 81 prolific robbery offenders had extremely high prevalence of ACEs: 80% had previously been victims of crime themselves (highest offence categories assault with bodily harm, robbery and domestic violence). Reported to police as missing is 63%, school exclusions 49%, incarceration of a family member 35% and known to social services 91%. The prevalence of 4 or more ACEs among the 81 prolific robbery offenders is two to five times higher than it is in other estimates for London (random sample) or England (children in need).</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleConclusions</jats:title> jats:pA substantial proportion of all London arrests for robbery identify young people with disproportionately high levels of adverse childhood experiences. Most of the ACEs are to some extent treatable by cognitive behavioural therapies and related treatments aimed at post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One possible pathway to promote desistance from high-harm crime in this population may be the development and testing of a police role in helping to ensure that these few most chronic, high-harm arrestees received effective treatment for the consequences of ACEs.</jats:p> </jats:sec>