Digital Drift and the “Sense of Injustice”: Counter-Productive Policing of Youth Cybercrime

Thomas Holt, Russell Brewer, Andrew Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past several decades, criminological scholarship has increasingly focused on the problem of cybercrime including technology-enabled offending. Theoretical developments that account for these offences have not grown in tandem, leading to questions as to the nature of cybercriminality relative to traditional forms of offending. Recently, Goldsmith and Brewer proposed the conceptual framework of digital drift, extending elements of Matza’s original theories to the virtual environment. While making a useful contribution to the theorization of cybercrime, we argue that further elements of Matza’s original work also warrant consideration. In particular, we acknowledge the role of policing and the criminal justice system in affecting offender perceptions and decision-making. As such, this article extends the theorizing around digital drift to incorporate the ways that offender views are shaped in reaction to the law enforcement and industry responses to cybercrime. The implications of this extension are discussed in depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1144-1156
Number of pages13
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number9
Early online date21 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2019


  • online spaces
  • cybercrime
  • digital piracy
  • deviant subcultures


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  • Crimes across borders

    Goldsmith, A., 2017, Crime and Justice: A Guide to criminology. Palmer, D., De Lint, W. & Dalton, D. (eds.). 5th ed. Pyrmont, N.S.W.: Thomson Reuters, p. 279-304 26 p.

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