Policing young people
One of the biggest contemporary challenges for the police relates to their encounters with youth. Young people are vilified in the mass media and substantially feared by local communities (Constantinou et al. 2008). Crime statistics internationally suggest that youth predominates in rates of criminal offending, suggesting a significant burden on the criminal justice system and consequently, in the first instance, on the police. This chapter seeks to elucidate the challenges and potential complexities of police contacts with young people in the community. It reviews what is known about the nature and extent of police contact with this group, and considers the central importance of police discretion and perceptions of legitimacy, as well as stigma, in the often delicate balance between community interests and public safety.