Brothers in arms
: an explorative study of turning points on the life path of young males involved in firearms offending

  • Susan Prior

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Under the Government’s austerity programme staff and budgets cuts have been experienced across the Police Service. Restructuring of the Metropolitan Police Service in 2012 saw the dissolution of the successful Operation Trident Command, providing a more focussed approach to gang crime and the passing of murder investigations within London’s black communities to the Homicide Command.
After a period of decline, gun crime in London rose sharply in 2016-17. The greater part of empirical research on gun crime has been broad in context. Much focus has been on ‘how’ the criminal careers of these offenders have progressed and the lifestyles and cultures that have encouraged gun crime offending.
The aim of this research is to gain an understanding of ‘why’ these young men become embroiled in gun crime and ‘what’ influences their journey to gun crime and thereafter their decision to try and desist from crime.
A mixed methods approach has been adopted utilising official police data and in-depth semi-structured interviews with five young men previously involved in firearm offending in London. Analysis examining risk factors, turning points and significant events is undertaken through their life phases. These are; (1) childhood and pre-offending, (2) offending years and (3) decision and attempt at desistance.
Overwhelming factors to emerge from the analysis were a lack of support and opportunity for these men throughout their lives. Poor parenting, a lack of positive role models, inadequate support from schools, council, social and probation services are identified.
As important within this context desistance is confirmed as a process where meetings with influential people or a severe personal shock prove to be pivotal. Conversely the illegal drugs market was identified as hugely instrumental in encouraging offenders returning to crime.
Date of AwardSept 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBarry Loveday (Supervisor)

Cite this