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Investigating the incidents of criminal and anti-social behaviour by young people on The Strand

Abstract

This is a report on a research project supported by a grant from the Criminology Research Council. The original title of the project; in the names of Glen Dawes and Bruce Drummond; was 'Investigating the incidence of criminal and antisocial behaviour by young people on the Strand in Townsville'. The Townsville Strand was redeveloped in 1999 and while attracting praise for its aesthetic appeal; it is also a public space that attracts individuals who engage in antisocial and criminal forms of behaviour. In particular young people have been identified as the perpetrators of behaviour such as driving modified cars; skateboarding along the promenade and participating in acts of vandalism such as the production of illegal graffiti. This research project gained the perceptions of young people who were identified as the perpetrators of antisocial or criminal behaviours on the Strand. The researchers interviewed young people who drove modified cars; belonged to the skateboarding culture and who had been involved in the production of graffiti. The outcomes of the research identify a number of key issues which challenge popular and often inaccurate public perceptions linking youth to antisocial or criminal behaviour. First; the majority of youth who utilise the Strand perceive that they are unfairly labelled as engaging in deviant behaviour because of their age; that they are easily identifiable by virtue of their alliance to specific subcultures and they congregate in public spaces. Secondly; there is a shared perception that a minority of youth engage in antisocial behaviour resulting in a concerted campaign to discourage youth from using the Strand. Thirdly; young people have responded by resolving to resist attempts to marginalise their presence on the Strand; which highlights the contested nature of public spaces by various stakeholders and questions the effectiveness of increased forms of policing and security aimed at regulating young people. The study highlights the need for alternative strategies to the perceived problem of youth and forms of antisocial or criminal behaviour on the Strand.

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