An investigation into joyriding as an addictive behaviour
This thesis describes an investigation into the type of car crime often referred to as 'joyriding'. Stealing a car for the fun of driving can be carried out quite excessively, and this has led to a number of anecdotal comments that joyriding may be 'addictive'. This has particularly been the case in Northern Ireland, where many joyriders have continued in the behaviour despite the threat or experience of serious paramilitary punishment. However, whilst several studies of car crime have alluded to the suggestion that some joyriders appear to be addicted to the behaviour, research conducted to specifically investigate this phenomenon has been scant. The present study therefore explores this notion further by exploring joyriding within the context of an addiction model. Following 10 pilot interviews with a total of 33 young offenders, the main study consisted of 76 semi-structured interviews conducted with 54 convicted joyriders (aged between 15-21 years), 12 professionals with care and control of joyriders, plus 11 non joyriding young offenders; the sample being drawn from both the Midlands and Northern Ireland. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and a qualitative thematic analysis was undertaken using QSR NUD *IST software. The career of the joyrider is presented in terms of how it maps on to the career pattern of (other) potentially addictive behaviours from initiation through to cessation of the behaviour. Discussion considers how the activity can be understood within the context of a deviant subculture, as well as an investigation of possible dependency to joyriding by some individuals as defined using DSM IV-type criteria. This analysis is followed by a consideration of how notions of `addiction', and 'addiction to joyriding', are perceived by the respondents, and how these notions compare with the 'diagnostic' criteria. Finally, the process of stopping joyriding is discussed within Prochaska and DiClemente's (1984) stages of change model, and related intervention strategies are suggested for the rehabilitation of joyriders at each of the hypothesised stages of change.