New system responses to juvenile crime in Denmark

Ann-Karina Eske Henriksen, Britt Østergaard Larsen, Tea T. Bengtsson, Theresa Henriksen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In the Nordic countries, social work and child welfare interventions have traditionally played a central role in preventing children’s involvement in future crime. Hence, child welfare authorities, rather than the criminal justice system, have handled cases with children involved in crime. However, in 2019, Denmark enacted a new policy reform that constitutes a radical break with this long-standing tradition of welfarism. The policy reform introduced court-like proceedings for children under the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Cases concerning juveniles aged 10 to 17 who commit serious offences are now handled by Youth Crime Boards and the Youth Probation Service. In this article, we explore the complexities of these new responses to juvenile crime in Denmark. We do this by combining quantitative analyses of administrative data with qualitative interviews with case managers. We argue that the new Danish system is highly complex and targets a diverse group of children with punitive measures. With this, we hope to provide insights relevant to policy makers and practitioners implementing new juvenile crime prevention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordisk Tidsskrift for Kriminalvidenskab
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)332-350
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • social work and social conditions


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