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Image © Villadsen, A. and Fitzsimons, E, Centre for longitudinal studies, university college London

Carrying or using a weapon at age 17: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. London: Centre

June 2021

At age 17, 6.4% of young people reported carrying or using a weapon in the preceding year. This was an increase from age 14 where 3.7% reported this. At age 17 the prevalence for males (8.8%) was more than twice that for females (3.9%).

Weapon carrying or use at age 17 intersected with other types of offences at the same age. Those who had engaged in weapon carrying or use also reported much higher rates of assault, shoplifting, neighbourhood crime, criminal damage and arson, cybercrime, and online bullying.

Those carrying or using a weapon were also much more likely to have taken part in multiple types of these other offences, and were likely to have offended many times. Compared to those who did not, a higher proportion of those who carried or used a weapon were current or previous gang members.

In Childhood experiences of low household income, domestic abuse between parents, and conduct/hyperactivity problems were linked with carrying or using a weapon at age 17. Factors from earlier adolescence (age 14) that were associated with carrying or using a weapon at age 17 include self-harm, substance use, being excluded from school, and having peers who use multiple substances.

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