Street Robbery Is Not Just About Money

An ESRC press release (via Medical News Today, 1 Dec) highlights a new study that explores offenders’ (self-reported, post hoc) reasons for committing street robbery:

Financial gain is far from being the only motivation for violent street robbery in the UK. It is often carried out because of a sheer desire to fight, to put right perceived injustice, to increase “street cred” or even just for “kicks.” This emerges from a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

[…] Professor Trevor Bennett, Director of the Centre for Criminology, University of Glamorgan and Dr. Fiona Brookman have provided dramatic insights into the role of street culture in the motivation and enactment of violent street crime. They interviewed 120 offenders, average age 26, of whom one third said they had been arrested 50 times or more.

Motivations identified included:

  • financing a party lifestyle, usually involving drugs
  • financing the purchase of non-essential, status-enhancing items (such as cars)
  • for the ‘buzz’ (including from overpowering the victim);
  • through anger and the desire to start a fight, “with cash being taken only as an afterthought”;
  • as a kind of revenge (righting perceived wrongs).

[…] Professor Bennett says, “The decision to commit street robbery can be explained in part by particular characteristics of the street culture. This finding is important because British research has tended to explain robbery in terms of rational choice and to focus instead on the role of cost-reward calculations. Our research suggests that any explanation must primarily take into account cultural factors associated with life on the street.”

Reference: Trevor Bennett, Fiona Brookman, Richard Wright (2006). A qualitative study of the role of violence in street crime. End of award report.