David Cameron has defended his call for more understanding of why young people commit crime - and rejected suggestions he wants people to "hug a hoodie". The Conservative leader said he wanted "to understand what's gone wrong in these children's lives". In a separate speech on Monday he also called for police to do more crime fighting and less form filling. But Home Office Minister Tony McNulty dismissed the Tory leader's approach as "vacuous" and "wash-and-go politics". Family breakdown In a speech on social justice, Mr Cameron claimed teenagers who hide under hooded tops are trying to "blend in" rather than appear threatening. Hooded tops - known as hoodies - have come to be viewed by some as a symbol of social disorder. Earlier Mr Cameron told BBC Breakfast he was still tough on crime. "Of course people who commit crime should be held responsible. Adult society's response to the hoodie shows how far we are from finding the long-term answers to put things right David Cameron "But I think people want their politicians to ask the question: 'What is it that brought that young person to commit that crime at that time? What's the background to it, what are the long-term causes of crime?' "If you're ill, it's no good putting a sticking plaster on it. You've got to get to the bottom of the illness. "Let's try and understand what's gone wrong in these children's lives and we'll find it's about family breakdown, it's about drugs, it's about alcohol abuse, often it's young people who are brought up in care when they should be in loving homes. "Let's now deal with those problems. That doesn't mean at the same we can't be tough when a crime is committed." Pen pushers? In his speech, he insisted: "We - the people in suits - often see hoodies as aggressive, the uniform of a rebel army of young gangsters. "But hoodies are more defensive than offensive. They're a way to stay invisible in the street. In a dangerous environment the best thing to do is keep your head down, blend in."