Is Crime linked to Youth Unemployment?

How Youth Unemployment and Crime are Linked in Your Area

At Global MapAid, we believe that when a picture tells a story in 1,000 words, then a good map can tell us so much more. Through our research into the problems and solutions for youth unemployment, we have identified that crime rates bear a strong connection with youth unemployment. This view on youth unemployment is supported by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson who has stated: “In my view, this is a ticking time bomb. Many of these young people, particularly young men, could well be drawn into antisocial behaviour, which in some cases will graduate into serious violence and crime.” May 28th 2020

This map shows the areas where both crime rates and youth unemployment rates were high in 2019:

Map Legend

The areas where the highest rates of youth unemployment and crime found together were:

  • North East Kent
  • Kingston Upon Hull
  • Manchester
  • Middlesbrough 
  • East Wales
  • London
  • Birmingham 

Our research found that these were also the areas with the fewest number of opportunities relative to the population. Clearly the data shows that there may be a link between lack of opportunity and unemployment to local crime. It’s very likely that young people are not being appropriately served with apprenticeships in ways that could prevent them from committing crimes. 


Examples of these crimes are: 

  • Violence with injury
  • Stalking and harassment
  • Sexual offences
  • Robbery
  • Theft offences
  • Burglary
  • Vehicle offences
  • Shoplifting
  • Criminal damage and arson
  • Public order offences

For source data for above click here

Knife Crime


The British Youth Council’s latest paper on Knife Crime reports some concerning statistics:


  • The year ending March 2018 saw the highest ever recording of homicides with sharp objects (including knives).
  • NHS England hospital admissions for injuries caused by an assault by a knife or sharp object have increased by almost a third since 2012–13
  • There has been a 93% rise in hospital admissions for knife attacks on under-16s since 2012 and 51% increase in admissions of under-18s since 2014.
  • 25% of knife crime victims who are admitted to hospital are men aged 18–24


The paper also states that “young people who experience mental health issues, adverse childhood experiences, have learning difficulties, live in poverty or are excluded from school are more likely to be vulnerable to involvement in knife crime.” 


But what if these young people were supported in a way that could reform their lives? At every level? Giving them the opportunity and assurance that they do not have to turn to knife crime out of fear or because they feel they have no other option?


Crime and unemployment may also feed into one another negatively. Childhood criminal records can be a huge barrier for young people if they decide to seek employment, training, education or housing. It’s possible that once a young person commits a crime, they feel they’re unable to reform and enter the job market as their record is permanently tarnished. This may in turn encourage more criminal offences and becoming subject to gang environments as the next best option. It is vital that a solution is found to break this cycle and help young people transform from being vulnerable to building a life free from crime


There are obviously a lot of factors in play, but Global MapAid believes that unemployment and lack of opportunity act as a catalyst for crime. Our maps on youth unemployment, further education locations and apprenticeships opportunities indicate the areas which are suffering the most, so we hope these can be utilised to send aid in the right direction, in order for things to be changed effectively on the ground.




This is a pressing issue right now because in the current crisis, it is the youth whose job prospects are suffering the most. 

Source: Office for National Statistics – Labour Force Survey


Vacancies are approaching a recession level reduction, and estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies state that employees under the age of 25 were “about two and a half times as likely to work in a sector that is now shut down” compared to other employees. The class of 2020 who have left school, and all unemployed youth, today in June 2020 face a daunting and vulnerable time, and therefore we believe action needs to be taken now. 


But please don’t take our word for it. 


Here below are the words of a social worker, an academic and a policeman.


Craig Pinkney is a Birmingham based youth worker and criminologist, and a well-respected lecturer from the University of Birmingham. He says:


“I believe that a public health approach needs to be community-led and academically driven. Not using the community, but working with them in all interventions and services designed to respond to the issues faced by young people. It shouldn’t be done in a tokenistic way.” 


Please also consider the views of Dr Simon Harding, Director of the National Centre for Gang Research. Simon describes how outside London, in areas such as Birmingham, gang tensions are expected to rise, along with a resurgence in crime following a quieter period during the lockdown. He says it is believed that “rival groups recruited “low-performing” children while out of school and are now preparing to exploit rising numbers of unemployed youngsters.”


Guardian 16th May 2020 “UK police fear explosion of violent crime as lockdown eases”


A senior policeman, Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan writes: The journeys of some of these young people embroiled in knife crime and gangs are quite similar. Excluded from school, no significant role model in their life, move from place to place, involved in petty crime very early on, come from a household known to social services. All those things, you look at the pattern, it’s all the same. Police have a role, but every profession, every agency has a role to play, so hopefully, we intervene in the right places.”


What next?


At Global MapAid, we want to illustrate and understand these youth situations and problems through the production of our maps. 


But more than that, we want to map the solutions and vitally where there are gaps in solutions.

Is there a map that you think would be useful to see? 

If so, please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss your ideas and don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletters.