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Youth crime on rise

Violent crime rose by 40 per cent among Swiss youths Keystone

The number of Swiss youths committing crimes has risen by ten per cent since 1999, with most convicted of theft and consumption of illegal drugs.

The Federal Statistics Office said 13,500 children or youths were sentenced in 2003 – 1,200 more than in 1999.

Forty-four per cent of all these cases involved theft or property damage, officials said on Monday. A further 36 per cent were sentenced for drug-related crimes.

There was a 40 per cent increase in the number of violent crimes registered over this period, which accounted for 13 per cent of the total.

In 2003, four out of five criminal acts were committed by youths between the ages of 15 and 17, putting to rest the widely held belief that the age of delinquents is dropping.

The number of children aged seven to 14 who were sentenced between 1999 and 2003 actually decreased from 2,988 to 2,768.

Males were convicted in 82 per cent of all juvenile court cases, and 61 per cent were Swiss, with foreigners accounting for one in every three. Young asylum seekers were found guilty four per cent of the time.

In nearly 60 per cent of the cases, the delinquents were ordered to do community service or were reprimanded. Almost 20 per cent were fined and only six per cent had to serve time in jail.

swissinfo with agencies

13,500 youth were sentenced in 2003, 1,200 more than in 1999.
80% were convicted for theft or consumption of illegal drugs.
13% were charged and sentenced for violent acts.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR