Crime targeting small firms on the rise, says SFA

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38% of small businesses have been victims of crime on at least one occasion during the past two years, according to a new survey by the SFA

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19 May 2014

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CrimeNearly half of all small firms (48%) have experienced an increase in crime in the past two years, according to the ninth National Small Business Crime Survey conducted by the Small Firms Association (SFA).

What’s more, 38% of businesses have been victims of crime on at least one occasion during the same time period. A worryingly large percentage (49%) of these respondents were victims of crime on three or more occasions.

SFA assistant director, Avine McNally said: "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 €80 to €200,000, with the average cost per incident being €8,728.

The capital expenditure by respondents on security measures average €6,049 per company or a total investment of €1.20 billion per annum for all small businesses. 38% of firms viewed their spend on security products as good value for money. In addition, the average cost per company of maintenance for security equipment averages €1,300 per annum or €260 million annually.

The survey indicates that as crime becomes more sophisticated, firms are putting more complex security systems in place. The use of CCTV has increased to over 60%, while the number of electronic access control systems have risen to nearly 48%. Firms also use alternative security services such as mobile and static security patrols; guard dogs and key holding services.

Respondents were drawn from all sectors throughout Ireland. 48% of respondents were of the opinion that crime has increased, while 37% viewed crime against business remaining static during the last two years. The survey also showed that nearly 11% of firms had experienced on line-fraud in regard to their company services/products.

The SFA is calling for the following approach to reduce the cost and incidence of business crime, 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. Low conviction rates are a concern. 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 reoffending. 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.

 

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