Alcohol use and young people's offending

Project Details


Following the 2002-2008 project 'Restorative justice and young people', Dr Alex Newbury collaborated with Professor Gavin Dingwall from De Montfort University on research into alcohol use and young people’s offending.

This project drew on findings specifically relating to alcohol from Alex Newbury’s initial Youth Offending Team (YOT) research involving 55 semi-structured interviews with young offenders, and observations of 41 youth offender panels over an 18-month period taking place in two Youth Offending Teams in the southeast of England.

The research examined the role of alcohol in offending and considered young people’s consumption habits and perceptions about the impact of alcohol on their behaviour. Finally, researchers reflected on whether current interventions relating to alcohol education in England and Wales are effective in providing both factual information and motivations to change for young people.

The objectives of this research project were to:
> examine the connections between alcohol use and offending behaviour
> identify patterns in alcohol consumption relating to age and gender
> explore young people’s attitudes towards alcohol consumption
> suggest strategies for improving alcohol education to challenge risky pathways in relation to offending and drunkenness.

Key findings

Interviews with young female offenders revealed naïve and dangerous assumptions about what constituted safe alcohol usage and a lack of understanding about the strength of alcohol, its impact on their bodies and failure to learn from previous harmful experiences.

Findings appear to demonstrate a greater willingness on the part of the female respondents to attribute their behaviour to ‘binge drinking’ and drunkenness, and, crucially, to express remorse for their resultant offending. This approach contrasts with the male offenders who tended to minimise the impact alcohol had on their offending, instead justifying their behaviour and attributing it to a range of issues unrelated to alcohol, such as settling a score, anger, or ‘being in the wrong place at the wrong time’. The gender bias exhibited in relation to the attitudes towards, and explanations about, offending was striking and suggests that, with admission of the issue, female offenders might be more receptive to interventions.

The importance of meaningful alcohol advice and support was identified as a vital way to prevent recidivism and risky behaviour in the future. In addition, researchers recommended early preventative intervention in school settings with tailored approaches taking into account gender differences to tackle ‘binge drinking’ and offending.


Newbury, A. and Dingwall, G. Targeting Female Alcohol-Related Offending through Gender-Specific Early Intervention (article)

Newbury, A. (2015) The impact of alcohol and gender on young people's offending - a need for more tailored education? Criminology: Voyages of Critical Discovery, British Society of Criminology Conference, Plymouth, 30June - 3 July.

Newbury, A. (2015) Changing risky pathways: Young peoples’ perceptions about the impact of alcohol on their offending behaviour and the need for early interventions, Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risk, Journal of Youth Studies Conference, Copenhagen, 30 March - 1 April.

Newbury, A. and Dingwall, G. (2013) 'It lets out all my demons': Female young offenders' perceptions about the impact of alcohol on their offending behaviour. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 41 (4) pp. 277-291.
Effective start/end date1/09/1231/08/16


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.