Crime rates may fall because of the Government's investment in pre-school education and child care, Professor David Smith, head of the criminology department at Edinburgh University, told delegates.
American research clearly showed that children who benefited from pre-school enrichment were less likely to resort to crime, even in the most disadvantaged communities. Educational performance and job prospects were improved and anti-social behaviour cut. "Encouraging cognitive growth is important for the prevention of criminality," Professor Smith said.
Adults without pre-school education in one American project were twice as likely to be arrested while another study showed probation cases to be almost four times higher among those without pre-school education.
The most effective interventions combined a number of approaches, including pre-school education and school-based programmes that focus on self-control and rewarding good behaviour.Anti-bullying strategies also played a part.