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57% of firms have experienced an increase in crime

SFA Crime Survey Results

SFA 8th National Business Crime Survey reveals:

·57% of firms have experienced an increase in crime
·34% of businesses were victims of crime in the past two years
·40% of respondents were victims of crime on three or more occasions
·Average cost per incident is €4,518
·Capital expenditure on crime protection for small firms is €2.02 billion
·13% experience crime while travelling on business

“Small business is spending billions of Euros on security provision and yet the incidence, extent, scope and costs associated with crime are increasing.”Patricia Callan, Director Small Firms Association.

The 8th National Small Business Crime Survey conducted by the Small Firms Association, shows that 57% of firms having experienced an increase in crime in the past two years, while 34% of businesses have been victims of crime on at least one occasion during the same time period.

According to SFA Director, Patricia Callan, “the business community is under constant attack from planned professional criminality. There is an enormous psychological price being paid by business people as crime is now more organised, more professional, more ruthless and more pervasive.”

The costs associated with crime are increasing rapidly with the current survey showing the costs incurred per single incident of crime ranging from €100 to €35,000, with the average cost per incident being €4,518, an increase of nearly 55% on 2009 figures. The capital expenditure by respondents on security measures average €6,133 per company or a total investment of €2.02 billion per annum for all small businesses.

Callan said: "a large part of the cost burden falls on retailers who are especially vulnerable to crime and find themselves spending large sums of money on security measures they can ill afford. While the use of intruder alarms remains the most common security system with nearly 81% of firms having a system in place, the survey indicates that as crime is becoming more sophisticated, firms are putting more complex security systems in place. The use of CCTV has increased to just over 53%, while the number of electronic access control systems have risen to nearly 37%. Firms also use alternative security services such as mobile and static security patrols; guard dogs and key holding services. Over 50% of firms test their security systems on an annual basis.”

Respondents were drawn from all sectors throughout Ireland and 714 companies responded. 57% of respondents were of the opinion that crime has increased, while 33% viewed crime against business remaining static during the last two years.

The major forms of crime cited were as follows:
2012 2009
Theft of stock 35% 18%
Burglary 32% 11%
Criminal damage 30% 14%
Theft of property 25% 10%
Theft of cash 24% 13%
Internal Fraud 10% 3%
Credit/Cheque card 8% 9%
Armed robbery/Syringe 3% 1%
Extortion 3% 1%

Since the 2009 survey, theft of stock has increased by 17%; theft of property has increased by 15% and internal fraud increased by 7%. “Small companies who do not have the necessary internal controls in place are open season for fraud and theft. It must be treated as an everyday risk and firms who do not take preventive steps are exposing their business to serious losses,” commented Callan.

13% of respondents had experienced crime whilst travelling on business. Theft of property (55%) was the main form of crime however, credit card fraud, theft of cash and physical attack were also experienced.

Over the last two years small firms have increasingly become the victims of a range of scams, identity fraud, phishing and data theft. 14% of all respondents were victims of scams, with 42% of those respondents experiencing overseas requests for use of bank details. The costs of these incidents ranged up to €30,000, with the average cost per incident being €3,767.

Nearly 6% of firms had experienced on line-fraud in regard to their company services/products with the average cost being €7,000.

Commenting on the impact of crime and the low rate of convictions achieved in Ireland relative to other jurisdictions, Callan stated: “as small business comes under ever increasing pressure to protect itself, the SFA is critical of the conviction rates being achieved in Ireland relative to other jurisdictions. The small business community is under constant siege from planned, professional criminality and the conviction rates being achieved in Ireland fall far short of what is being achieved in other jurisdictions, particularly the UK.”

“Figures available from the Gardai show that the annualised number of headline cases reported to the Gardai was 284,131. The number of convictions achieved was 41,792. From these figures it appears there is very little chance of Irish criminals ever being brought to justice, leaving the victims of crime in a sense of hopelessness and despair,” commented Callan. (Source: IPA Diary 2010).

"Crime is of paramount importance because it costs money, affects health and lowers the quality of life. All those unfortunate enough to become victims of crime experience one or more of these traumas. In addition to the obvious costs of crime such as insurance, there are many hidden costs, including the cost of lost production, administrative costs associated with crime investigation, higher staff turnover, absenteeism, stress, loss of premises, degeneration of business areas, closures and job losses,” Callan added.

“It would appear that business crime does not feature on the political agenda. Businesses no longer have faith in a system which has a constitutional responsibility to protect them. For too long the emphasis has been placed on the needs of the perpetrator and not the victims of crime.”

The SFA is therefore calling for the following approach to reduce the cost and incidence of crime on business, both at policy and operational levels.

·The Government and the Gardai must address the concerns of small business on the criminal justice system's ability to deal with the problem of crime.

·Rather than calling for new laws to be enacted those laws currently on the statute book must be rigorously applied to all forms of crime.

·A strategy for the penal system should be formulated so that it provides an effective deterrent and at the same time aims to rehabilitate offenders and prevent recidivism. It is widely recognised that reform of the legal system or the courts system is futile without reform of the penal system. Already the prison system does not have the capacity to deal with those being convicted or sentenced.

Callan concluded “small business is spending billions of Euros on security provision and yet the incidence, extent, scope and costs associated with crime are increasing. This alone reflects the societal changes which are taking place and why it is so important that crime, its prevention and the manner in which we deal with convicted criminals must change, otherwise our society and businesses are in serious danger.”

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