Vandalism began to fall sharply in 2006/07 – about the same time as smartphone sales began to take off in the UK.
Research last year by Ofcom found 7% of teenagers spent less time socialising with friends since they got a smartphone.
Would it be too much of a stretch to suggest they also spend less time hanging around on street corners and vandalising things?
“There are so many things for kids now,” says Kito, a 30-year-old Camden youth worker. “Why waste their time vandalising when they could be on their BB [Blackberry] talking to girls or on YouTube putting up their music videos? They have got a lot of things to keep them occupied. They don’t need to be bored now.”
The average 11- to 14-year-old spends 13 hours a week playing computer games, increasingly on their smartphones, GameTrak figures show. If true, this would not leave a great deal of time for much else.