Boy Racers and Influencing
their Behaviour
Dr Karen Lumsden
Department of Social Sciences
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @karenlumsden2
• Ethnographic research with ‘boy racer’ culture in city of
Aberdeen, Scotland. Interested in both:
• The boy racer culture (rituals, participation, gender, class)
• The response of society (police, politicians, media, local community)
Background to Aberdeen’s ‘Bouley Bashers’
Police and local authority response
The myth of the ‘boy racer’
Lessons learned for RSOs from police response to the
drivers in Aberdeen:
• Use of ASB legislation
• Education
Background: Aberdeen’s ‘Bouley Bashers’
• Car culture at Aberdeen’s
Beach Boulevard since late
• Urban regeneration from
1990s onwards
• Community concern
• Proliferation of local and
national media articles on
Aberdeen’s ‘boy racers’
(peaked 2004/5)
Media Representation
‘For more than 30 years
they’ve been at it –
speeding recklessly up
and down the Beach
Boulevard. In that time the
leisure complex has
grown massively and
become a magnet for
families. But that hasn’t
stopped the madness of
the boy racers – or led to
the authorities driving
them off the roads’
(Press & Journal 2002)
Police and Local Authority Response
Police operations
Redesigned road layout
Education via road safety
• Grampian Police ‘Drivers’
• Provision of alternative spaces
(i.e. ‘park and ride’ car parks)
• ASB legislation: seizure of
vehicles and dispersal orders
The Myth of the ‘Boy Racer’
• Importance of car modification for
individual and collective identity
• Driving performances allow
individuals to gain celebrity status
• Growing number of girls participate
although still largely male, workingclass subculture
• Not all youths, also older drivers
• Challenges myths around what a
‘boy racer’ is:
• > Majority took pride in driving skills and
The ‘Drivers’ Group’ and Self-Policing
• Grampian Police ‘Drivers’ Group’ successful as a
way of information sharing between
police/community and drivers
• The drivers also engaged in their own informal
policing re. ‘how to behave’ in the culture
• Informal rules and expectations which members
were expected to adhere to (i.e. parking on
‘trammers’ and not beside the flats, not
Lessons for RSOs: ASB Powers
• In case of Aberdeen’s boy racers, ASB powers were only
successful in the short term
• Long term implications – stigmatized group and
impacted negatively on police-driver relations
• Tension between successful consensual management of
young drivers..
• And enforcement-led approaches reflected via use of
ASB legislation
• More education needed on regulations and best-practice
for car modification
Lessons for RSOs: Driver Education
• Focus on education and interaction via
community policing – must extend to roads
• ‘Drivers’ Group’ particularly successful as a
way of information sharing between police
and drivers
• Recognition of the myth of the ‘boy racer’ or
street racer – not always young drivers…
What does the term ‘boy racer’ mean?
‘Well it’s stereotypical. Isn’t it? I guess by their
definition I typically am [a ‘boy racer’] but then
what does the term mean? I am, but I don’t really
race. In fact, not that I don’t really race, I never
have raced! Most people who come down here
aren’t racers either. It’s just a few idiots who spoil
it for the rest of us.’
(Interview with Robert)
Further Information
• Access publications via webpage:
• Or email me directly: [email protected]

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