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Sec 8 Theft Act 1968

"A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time 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 force being there and then subjected to force."

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In order for robbery to take place, a theft must occur.

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Immediately Before or at the Time of Doing So

The force used or threatened must be in order to steal and must be used 'immediately before' or 'at the time of doing so'.

  • "Immediately before" will depend on the circumstances in each case, but it is fair to assume that this means within a very short time frame (ex. 5 to 10 minutes)
  • "At the time of doing so" is self-explanatory, an example would be where the offender pushes a person to the ground and grabs the briefcase they are carrying and runs away with it.
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In Order to Steal

The force 'used' or 'putting or seeking to put in fear' must be used in order to steal.

If the force or fear was used for another purpose, for example escaping, then the offence does not constitute robbery, rather theft and assault.

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Uses Force

The use of force must be used against a person. Force or threats of force to property will not satisfy this offence. An accidental use of force will not be a robbery. Force can include pulling property from a persons grasp.

Generally, robberies are clear examples of an aggravated theft where a victim is attacked in order to steal.

However, there are some areas that are not as clear. For example, the mere snatching of a bag from a victim who offers no resistance will not amount to force and therefore would not be an offence of robbery, rather theft.

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Puts or Seeks to Put in Fear

When force has not been used, a person being put in fear then and there being subject to force is enough to constitute robbery. 

Where the accused can be shown to have sought ‘to put a person in fear’, it does not matter if anyone was actually frightened as long as it is proved that the accused ‘sought’ to put the person in fear.

Fear, in this case, must be for themselves. A threat to put someone in fear of another is not enough.

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