The offence of robbery is defined under the theft act 1968 section 8.

The Theft Act 1968 defines the offence of robbery.

The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

Robbery is defined as; 'A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force.'

The offence of robbery is a serious offence hence the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

We are helped with our understanding of what amounts to robbery by the courts' approach to a number of cases.

The elements of the offence of theft must first be established. If the necessary elements for theft are not established then it is not possible to consider whether the offence of robbery has arisen Robinson (1977). In that case the defendant ran a clothing club and was owed £7.00 by the victim's wife, a fight took place during which a £5.00 note fell from the victim's pocket. The defendant appropriated the note. The defendant claims he was still owed an additional £2.00.  The defendant was convicted of robbery but appealed.

The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction on the grounds that the defendant had an honest belief that he was entitled to the money so could not be held to have stolen it.

Each and every element of the offence must be established.

Some examples of robbery include the following;

  • A handbag or mobile phone is forcibly snatched from a person's grasp, you should normally charge robbery;
  • A child hands over money following threats of significant violence made by an older and physically larger youth, you should normally charge robbery.
  • Force may not be used, but if a weapon is produced or made visible to the victim (on the basis of an implied threat), you should normally charge robbery.
  • Should a car be taken using force or the threat of force and the evidence supports the inference that the offender did not intend the victim to recover the car intact (e.g. the car is not recovered; or is recovered but seriously damaged or burnt out), you should normally charge robbery;

Some examples when it would not be appropriate to charge robbery include the following;

  • A handbag has been taken off of the shoulder of a victim without any force being used or any threat to the victim.
  • A shoulder strap is cut allowing the bag to be taken and the victim is unaware of this until after the handbag has been stolen.


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