New research shows growing concern on impact of criminal activity on staff
Staff intimidation or abuse is the most concerning form of criminal activity mentioned by 56% of businesses in customer-facing sectors
4 October 2023
New research shows a growing concern among customer-facing businesses such as retail and forecourt stores about the impact of criminal activity on staff.
64% of businesses surveyed were victims of crime in the past year and 24% cited staff intimidation or abuse as the most common form of criminal activity they had experienced.
The research, conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of Netwatch Security, also shows that criminal activity had profound psychological and physical effects on staff members of the businesses affected, and was more prevalent in customer-facing sectors including retail, forecourt, wholesale, hospitality, health and social care.
Significantly, fear and stress among employees were the leading concern of businesses asked about the impact of criminal activity was 35% in customer-facing sectors, compared to a national average of 30%.
Meanwhile, 30% experienced a loss of staff or a need for leaves of absence due to criminal activity in customer-facing sectors, versus 23% national average across all sectors. There was also a higher incidence of physical injuries in customer-facing sectors at 18% versus 13%.
Looking to the future, staff intimidation or abuse is the most concerning form of criminal activity mentioned by 56% of businesses in customer-facing sectors such as retail and forecourt, 19% higher than the national average across all sectors. This is the first time that staff intimidation or abuse has appeared in the Netwatch research and is a significant concern for organisations, particularly those with over 50 employees, where 42% of the cohort cited the issue.
In total 255 completed interviews were conducted with decision makers across a wide range of organisations countrywide from 24 May to 21 June 2023.
“As owners and managers we should be able go home in the evenings safe in the knowledge that our staff are taken care of when they’re at work,” said Sinead Nolan, owner and manager of Nolan’s Spar Ballon, Co, Carlow.
“They need to know that we have done all we can to provide a safe working environment for them,” she continued. “As retailers – particularly any businesses dealing with the general public – we need to do everything that we can to deter criminals, and in the instances out of our control, we need to create a supportive environment for staff during and after any criminal incident. Not only is it our duty of care but it makes business sense, reducing staff turnover and maintaining our reputation in the community.”
“This year’s report highlights an upward trend on business attitudes towards security, with a marked increase in those who perceive security an essential or high business priority,” said Colin Hayes, Netwatch managing director for Ireland andUK.
“In this year’s survey, crime is reported to be costing business over €30,000 but the unseen, human impact is becoming evident through staff absence and loss of staff due to negative events,” Hayes added.
This latest research chimes with the sombre findings of retail organisation RGDATA’s latest annual survey on retail crime. RGDATA director general Tara Buckley has since told the government’s Retail Forum that retail crime remains a daily stress for independent shopkeepers and must be tackled with more custodial sentences for repeat offenders and a multi departmental approach to “feral youth” crime.