What is Crime?
Crime is defined as an act committed in violation of a law prohibiting it or an act committed in violation of a law ordering it.
Crime is committed by both internal and outsiders for commercial businesses. Employees commit an act of misconduct such as a breach of policies and procedures. It is paramount that businesses implement crime prevention measures to reduce the risk of crime being committed which in return reduce the loss to the business.
According to the 2018 Commercial Victim Survey suggested that 71% of theft committed by the customer and 42% of the theft reported to the police (Crime Against Business Survey, 2018). The median value of the theft per customer is around 626 pounds and trespassing to agriculture-related anti-social behaviour increased by 31% (Crime Against Business Survey, 2018). In addition, wholesale and retail have experienced most of the theft incidents totalling 27,358 all-time high in 2018 (Crime Against Business Survey, 2018).
According to PWC Global and Economic Crime Survey 2020 found that about 47% of companies experienced fraud in the past 24 months and the most common types of crime were customer fraud, cybercrime, and asset misappropriation (PWC,2020). The total cost of these crimes is estimated to be around $42 billion dollars and only 56% conducted an investigation into the losses (PWC, 2020). It has been reported that the threat of fraud is growing and too many businesses are taking the risk to ignore or underestimate it (PWC, 2020).
Crime Prevention Strategies
1. Routine Activity Theory
For the crime to occur there must be three elements opportunity, motivated offender, and absence of capable guardian. An example such as having stock stacked up inside a warehouse with no staff or surveillance camera and easily accessed by customers and unauthorised staff who could easily have an opportunity to steal.
People are motivated to either impress their friends or as an employee feels that he has earned his right to take the items or an act to commit fraud. A common excuse used is "it is a big company, and they won’t miss it".
Appropriate security measures through proper environmental design and natural surveillance as well as security technology and manned guarding are important to eliminate the element of the absence of a capable guardian.
Through regular security audits and continuous employment screening, businesses will be able to determine the security risks as well as understanding the lifestyle of their employees to be able to prevent a crime from being committed against them. Moreover, training staff on a security awareness program and introducing a whistleblowing policy and rewarding for reporting act of crime, will improve the morale of employees and address issues of crime internally for fast response and investigation.
2. Rational Choice Theory
This strategy addresses the fear of punishment factor where the offender commits the act of crime or wrongdoing and weighing the reward against punishment whether prosecution, guilt or shame. According to the PWC report 2020, around 42% of companies were dedicated to the fraud prevention programme and 17% less on remediation.
The perpetrators before committing a crime assess his actions whether he/she is seen, or he/she will be noticed and if he/she is noticed will anyone act. According to the law, to prove a crime has been committed two points need to be proven which is a guilty mind (mens rea) and a guilty act (actus rea). However, there are challenges when the perpetrator is suffering from mental illness and having to prove his status of mind at the time of committing the crime.
3. The Broken Window Theory
This was developed in 1982 by James Wilson and George Kelling where a neighbourhood is suffering from anti-social disorder, adversaries and graffiti and the behaviour can continue without action from the law enforcement or society it will lead to further problems. For example, if a window of an empty office is not repaired it will attract criminal to enter the building commit act of vagrancy or burglary.
4. Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
The aim of this crime prevention methodology is to ensure that the facility is designed to reduce the opportunity and reduce fear of a crime. It was developed by Oscar Newman in 1972 creating a concept of defensible space where a facility can be organised through smaller defined zones. There are four factors for the defensible space which are territoriality, natural surveillance, image and milieu.
Through creating natural surveillance, increases visibility both internally and externally for the potential adversary and noticed that they have been detected. For example, ensuring that overgrown on the perimeter wall are trimmed or cleared will create a hidden spot for the potential adversary.
Creating appropriate lighting especially during the night or installing access control barriers or vehicle barriers to control entry and exit of personnel authorised access into the facility will reduce unauthorised entry into the facility.
Ensuring that the facility has proper locks on the doors and windows and any faults are repaired immediately. Having the doors and windows broken will create an opportunity for the potential adversary as discussed earlier on the broken window theory.
5. Situational Crime Prevention
This is a combination of the rational choice theory and additional security measures which provide additional security support to the business to prevent crime from occurring. This type of crime prevention introduces the following elements:
Increasing Perceived Risk
Visitors are screened on entry /exit to the facility.
Conducting surveillance on employees and customers such as surveillance cameras.
Crime prevention through environmental design.
Inducing guilt or shame
Implementing compliant policies
Introducing whistleblowing policy
Reducing anticipated rewards
Marking the property
Installing theft detection barriers
Increasing perceived effort
Improving access control
Deter offenders or deflect them to other location.
6. Undercover Surveillance
One of the methods that have been effective in identifying theft internally is through undercover surveillance whether within the organisation or through contracting a security consultancy firm. This will need to be coordinated at the early stages with the human resources and legal department before assigning a vendor. It also depends on the seriousness of the allegations and whether the purpose is to gather intelligence and evidence for the ongoing theft to identify the potential suspect for recovery, restitution, or dismissal.
Other methods of surveillance include covert surveillance and handling of informants. One example can be assigned a regular employee who can act as an informant in the department where there is theft occurring but consult with the legal and HR department before implementing it for some advice. This may be effective in certain culture because in some culture if the informant is exposed, the employees may be hostile and treating the informant as a traitor as well as using violence towards the informant. Before introducing the informant, a risk assessment must be carried to determine the risks and ensuring that the safety of the informant remains a priority to the organisation.
Workplace crime during a pandemic may have reduced because most employees have been working at home but who has been monitoring them. To prevent a crime, you must understand how crime is being committed, motivation and the reward. Having an effective security program and policies will create a line of defence for preventing crime from occurring and deter and detect any potential problems. It has been indicated that around 75% of employees have stolen from their employer at least once (Statistic Brain Research Institute, 2021). Therefore, it is imperative that to ensure that careful consideration is given to procedural security, environmental design, and physical security to ensure that the security program can deter and detect potential adversaries.
Crime Against Business Survey (2018). Crime Against Business Statistics 2018. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/crime-against-businesses
Accessed on 20th April 2021.
PWC(2021). PWC Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey (2020). Available at https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/forensics/gecs-2020/pdf/global-economic-crime-and-fraud-survey-2020.pdf Accessed on 20th April 2021.
Statistic Brain Research Institute (2021). Employee Theft Statistic 2021. Available at https://www.statisticbrain.com/employee-theft-statistics/ Accessed on 20th April 2021.