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A Qualitative Study of the Role of Violence in Street Crime

In the last few years, there have been a number of reports suggesting that in various ways street crime in the United Kingdom is becoming more violent. Little is known about street violence in the United Kingdom, especially of the social and gratuitous kind. Most of the research has been conducted in the United States and research here has so far not captured these more recent forms of violence. The research aims to investigate the nature of current forms of street violence. In particular, it aims to investigate areas in which there are notable gaps in our knowledge, including the role played by: (1) street culture, such as group or gang membership, (2) situational factors, such as the role of drug misuse, drug markets, and gun carrying, and (3) individual factors, such as gender and ethnicity, in explaining: (1) specific aspects of violence in relation to violent offences, such as car-jacking, street robbery, snatch thefts, and certain kinds of aggravated burglaries, and (2) general aspects of violence, such as retaliatory violence, dispute-related violence, gang violence, and disrespect violence. The research method will involve conducting interviews with offenders currently serving sentences for violent offences in prisons and young offenders institutions. The research will be based in Prison Service establishments in South Wales (with Cardiff as the largest urban area) and in South West England (with Bristol as the largest urban area). Bristol has a long-standing reputation for violent street crime and South Wales has a new and growing problem of violent street crime. The interviews will be semi-structured and will seek to obtain information on the context of violent street crime and specific violent offences. All respondents will be asked to describe their life context in the period shortly before incarceration, including lifestyles, relationships, group associations, gang membership, drug misuse, gun carrying, and criminal behaviour. They will also be asked to provide in-depth descriptions of selected violent offences. The aim of these descriptions would be to provide narratives of particular offence scenarios. The descriptions of violent episodes revealed in the transcripts generated in the current research will be compared with descriptions of violent episodes revealed in transcipts obtained from offenders in the United States