Young people and crime have always been linked in the minds of the general public. Moreover, there are widely held common-sense notions that such activities are a relatively recent phenomenon and invariably an outcome of the ‘permissive 1960s’ and the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family that has occurred in the intervening years. It is also widely believed that in the past young people were orderly, disciplined, well behaved and law-abiding (Pearson 1983). Indeed, this has been a commonly held and extremely influential viewpoint which has had a considerable impact on political thinking and policy agendas.