Danish youth crime at all-time low as kids choose being online over causing trouble

A new analysis from the Danish Crime Prevention Council (Det Kriminalpræventive Råd - DKR) shows that youth crime in Denmark has been declining since 2005 and is now at the lowest level ever recorded.

Danish youth crime at all-time low as kids choose being online over causing trouble
Why shoplift when you can Instagram? Photo: rodjulian/Iris
The analysis, which was first reported on by Politiken, showed significant declines in the number of 14 to 15-year-olds who commit crimes like theft, violence and vandalism. 
The DKR analysis also looked at other factors in the lives of Danish youths, and while it found that better relationships with their parents and improvements in crime preventive technology like alarm systems can explain part of the decline, the overwhelming factor behind the significant drop in youth crime is the internet. 
Young people are simply spending much more time online than getting into trouble in the real world. 
“The lifestyle change that created a shift amongst youth from the streets to cyberspace is one of the biggest reasons [for declining youth crime] if you look at it globally. It’s a trend that is found across the entire Western world,” criminologist Flemming Balvig, who made the study, told Politiken. 
Balvig’s study found that “very serious crime”, defined as crimes that carry the biggest societal costs like home break-ins and violence, have decreased by 41 percent since 2005 while “more serious crimes” like theft and online fraud have halved over the same period. 
Shoplifting, which DKR said is the most common crime amongst youth, has also plummeted. In 1989, nearly half of the surveyed teens – 46 percent – admitted to shoplifting. In 2016, the number was at just 17 percent. 
Danish teens are also drinking and smoking cannabis less now than they were 12 years ago. The number of 14 to 15-year-olds who said they get drunk at least once a month has fallen from 30 to 18 percent while the number who say they have smoked cannabis in the past year went from 13 to six percent. 
While DKR analyst Rannva Møller Thomsen cheered the decrease in youth criminality and substance abuse, she said that the mass shift of so much of Danish youth’s life from the real world to the virtual is not without its concerns. 
“We need to focus on what the youths are doing online because we actually don’t know so much about that. We also need to gain knowledge of how much criminality is taking place online,” she told news agency Ritzau. 
A report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year also suggested that young Danes may be becoming increasingly isolated due to their embrace of the virtual world. 
The WHO report found that Danish children aged 11 to 15 are spending much less free time with their friends than kids in most other countries.
Only 14 percent of 11-year-old Danish girls spend their leisure time with friends daily, while the number was at 16 percent for boys. The percentages decline as the age increases, with only seven percent of 15-year-old Danish girls spending their spare time with friends and only 13 percent of boys doing so.
Researchers have also warned of the physical dangers of spending too much time online, as demonstrated by the dramatic rise in the number of tech-related injuries among kids in Denmark.
Over the course of six years, there was a 47 percent increase in physiotherapist treatment for children aged 10 to 14 and a 33 percent increase for those aged five to nine, according to a report from 2016.

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Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Crime in Copenhagen’s hippie enclave of Christiania is increasing, police in the capital say following a number of drugs-related arrests.

Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Copenhagen Police arrested three men on Saturday for selling cannabis on Pusher Street in the alternative enclave of Christiania, as they continue their efforts to stamp out the area’s former open-air cannabis market. 

According to police, 875 people were arrested for selling cannabis in the first 11 months of 2022, more than in any other year over the past four years. 

A possible explanation for the increase in arrests could be that the rewards for operating hash stands have receded, according to a police spokesperson.

“It is extremely unattractive to stand out there, and therefore a lot of new people come in who have no idea what it is all about. Many of them come from outside the catchment area, and some of them are peripherally associated with a criminal group,” Simon Hansen, head of a Copenhagen Police special unit, told newspaper Politiken.

“It’s a bit – in inverted commas – ‘easier’ for us to catch these people,” he said. 

Around half of the stalls in the street are linked to various gangs and biker gangs, such as Satudarah, Bandidos, Hells Angels and Loyal To Familia, with the rest run by people living in Christiania, the Berlingske newspaper reported earlier this month.

The trend of rising crime occurs against a background of potential housing develop in Christiania, as the enclave’s residents decide on a plan to put affordable housing in the area.

Copenhagen Police last year told news wire Ritzau that the majority of people who are arrested within Christiania come from socially underprivileged or marginalised backgrounds.

They are exploited in gang and biker circles, resulting in them in some cases operating the illicit hash market stalls, according to the police.

Conflicts between organised crime groups have reportedly become more frequently aired in the Pusher Street market.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s ‘freetown’ Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on