Lack of job opportunities, low wages, inadequate training allowances and benefits are problems which may make criminal activity financially atlraciive— more attractive anyway than doing nothing and just hanging around al home or in the streets. While boredom, unemployment and lack of cash may be common experiences for many teenagers, for the present sample they were seen as an inevitable part of the future too. They were not optimistic about the prospect of finding work and legitimate opportunities to earn money.
For a number of people leisure activities depended on whether or nol Ihey had money to spare. Table 2.4 reflects this in showing ihcactiviiies people said ihey usually engaged in when not at school, working or stealing cars. The most common response, especially for the under I8's, was hanging around, for which little money is needed.
Driving or working on cars
Going to pub
Table 2.4 Typical leisure activities (n « 95)
Sport was seen by some of the sample as a legal alternative to taking cars:
I play football and go on a Sports Leadership course . . . I can't really play football. I'm alright but its just something to do . . . I've been jet skiing and got quite a buzz out of that and I've been in speed boats with a couple of my friends. It's a good laugh, you know you're not breaking the law. You can have a real good laugh . . . I always try to find something to do but it isn't easy. In the winter it's worse.
A number of things were done to reduce boredom. Some said they would normally sleep during the day, others said they would go to amusement arcades, or into a park to sit and talk to people. For some, when they were bored, taking cars 'for the hell of it' was one way of having fun—a point returned to in Chapter 3.
Some said that they would feel particularly bored at night:
1 was doing a lot of football, judo and karate, but after 10 o'clock at night, I would start gelling bored. I wasn't drinking then—I was only 16, just hanging around with nothing much to do.
The first lime we did it, we were bored. We were just sitting in the house at four o'clock in Ihe morning and none of us could get to sleep so he said to me 'What can we do cos we're bored?' and I said we could do that [steal a car] if you want. Two of the boys didn't want to do it, then two more said 'Come on, lei's do ii for a laugh'. So we all went out and did it for a laugh.
Lack of facilities for young people was often mentioned as a major problem:
I was bored (here wasn't anything else to do in the area. The nightclubs and discos and things like that were either for the over 21s, or they were boring.
There's nowl to do where I come from, nothing to do at all. They say go to the youth club and that, but what's there lo do over there?—play tennis with idiots.
All it would take would be for them to give us somewhere where we could loaf, that doesn't close al 11 o'clock . . . Somewhere we can hang around where we could all go and keep warm and do what we want to do in peace . . . I mean we've got television and youth clubs but we're always all around at one or two o'clock in the morning and there's no harm in us being around. If the police don't like it they should give us somewhere we could go.
Table 2.5 shows what the sample said they liked doing best, when not working, at school or taking cars. As can be seen, sport figures more highly than car- related activities, but almost a quarter of the sample (23%) reported having no favourite activity.
Getting drunk/out of it
Going lo clubs/raves
When asked what they would choose to do if they could do anything at all, almost half the sample (48%) mentioned car-related activities, rally driving
Table 2.5 Favourite leisure activities (n = 89)