I have heard it said that some crimes are categorised as ‘victimless’ and this is particularly true of crimes that target the business community. The word victim for many of us can be very emotive based on our experiences and perspectives.
When Business Crime is discussed in my experience it centres on the fact that most businesses are insured. That is often the end of the conversation.
We do not very often hear about the poorly paid shop managers whose job depends on effective stock control, including reducing the risk of shoplifting. The stress & pressure of knowing you could be sacked because of stock losses cannot be underestimated.
Nor do we hear much about petrol station staff, working long & unsocial hours and the impact on them of theft of petrol from garage forecourts. Not only does such theft leave staff feeling vulnerable many also face lawful deductions from their salary by their employer to compensate the business for the loss.
We hear quite a lot about metal theft here in Suffolk. What we don’t hear about is the emotional & financial impact of such thefts. The theft of lead from a church roof for example very often results in more damage to cherished buildings & is expensive to replace. It also causes real anxiety and increases fear of crime amongst local people.
Rural businesses and farms are particularly vulnerable to arson attacks and the Arson Prevention Bureau report stated that around 1,700 buildings and 66,000 acres of grassland are destroyed by fire in UK farms every year. Arson attacks are particularly traumatic for those involved.
But what of the wider impact on all of us. The BritishRetail Consortium suggests that retail crime costs every household an extra £90 each year on their shopping bills. Increased security measures whether electronic or human come at a cost. The impact of crime against small shops who may ultimately have to close, means a reduction of choice and shopping access in more disadvantaged communities.
Theft of metal or machinery means insurance premiums rise, and at a time of a double dip recession there are many businesses and individuals who are quite simply unable to afford these increases.There are many other crimes impacting on Business and with even wider social implications such as cyber crime, counterfeiting and forgery. The British Crime Survey 2010/2011(now the Crime Survey for England & Wales) showed credit card & bank fraud are crimes the public think are increasing the most.
The list though is endless and constantly changing with new technology. Additionally the crimes workers experience outside the work place such as burglaries, violent assaults, hate crime, domestic abuse also impact on business in terms of productivity and working time lost.Some business crime is attributal to organised gangs and the Serious Organised Crime Agency estimates there are 2,800 organised crime groups operating across England & Wales, costing the economy up to £40 billion a year.
Suffolk needs a Police and Crime Commissioner with a whole range of skills and a holistic victim centred overview of all types of crime. I believe I bring valuable insights having worked in the private sector for many years for large organisations such as Tesco, Greene King and Mothercare.
I do not believe that there is such a thing as a victimless crime. Do you?