Explaining the Decrease in Armed Robbery

Roger Matthews, Middlesex University

he number of reported armed robberies increased steadily throughout the 1970s and 1980s in England and Wales with a number of widely reported high profile cases involving notorious villains. In 1993, however, the number of commercial robberies involving a firearms began to rapidly decrease and by the end of the decade the number of reported incidents had decreased by fifty per cent. A number of explanations have been presented to account for this dramatic decrease including: 1) improved crime prevention measures, 2) more effective policing, 3) more stringent forms of gun control, 4) changing patterns of victimisation. Each of these explanations is examined and none are found to provide a convincing account of recent developments. Comparisons are also made with America where the level of armed robbery and other forms of violent crime has also gone down significantly. An alternative explanation is presented to account for these changes which it is believed more accurately accords with the available evidence.

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Updated 05/20/2006