|The influence of co-offenders is seen as a significant factor in the etiology of criminal offences. From the point of view of learning and cultural deviance theories, norms and values conducive to crime as well as criminal techniques and know-how are transmitted through contacts between co-offenders. This study uses the methodology of social network analysis to examine patterns of co-offending among juveniles suspected of offences in Stockholm between 1991 and 1995. The data are taken from the Stockholm police register. Around 22,000 individuals, together suspected of just under 37,000 offence participations, are included in the study . Twenty percent of these young offenders are linked to one another in a large central network in which a large proportion of the most delinquent individuals are included. These highly delinquent youths and their co-offenders constitute a nucleus in the central network. The networks examined here are characterized by a mixture of violent offences and other offence types. The larger the network, the higher the proportion of individuals suspected of violent offences. This violence does not however appear to be the result of conflicts between different groups of youths. It is rather a consequence of the fact that members of the larger networks are in general more delinquent than their counterparts in the smaller networks. The material studied contains little or no evidence to suggest the existence in Stockholm of gangs like those found in the large cities of North America.
KEY WORDS: juvenile delinquency, gangs, criminal networks, co-offending
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