News Archive

Crimes Against Business (1)

by msecadm4921

A longer look than in the February print edition of Professional Security at crimes against business.

The British Crime Survey talks to householders, and does not separate commercial premises. It is impossible therefore for Government to set a target for reducing business crime, if nobody has measured it. No target, no political pressure on police and courts to look lively. What estimates we do have of the costs of UK business crime are colossal – such as the British Chambers of Commerce’s: £18.8 billion. The Home Office has made plain however that businesses will have to at least share the cost of any extra action on business crime (‘It is envisaged that the costs of any new arrangements would be borne by the major stakeholders.’) This is despite a British Crime Survey finding that fewer than half of adults believe that the criminal justice system is effective in bringing people to justice (44 per cent) or dealing with cases promptly and efficiently (39 per cent). And despite the view of Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Simon Hughes, speaking in the House of Commons during the Second Reading of the Criminal Justice Bill 2002, in December 2002: ‘The biggest failures in the criminal justice system do not happen between the beginning and ending of the trial – they occur elsewhere. There is not enough crime prevention.’ Businesses, in return for paying taxes, want a well-resourced criminal justice system, that responds promptly, without logjams, and is biased in favour of the victims, not the accused. And as victims of crime go, businesses are the least regarded of the lot – the common view being that ‘it’s all on insurance’. Well, not really, if you’re a store detective and a drug-addicted shoplifter sticks a hypo in you.
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What police say
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Chris Fox, ACPO Vice President and Northamptonshire Chief Constable, said after the Home Office January 10 ‘gun summit’: ‘We have a duty to the communities who live in the shadow of gun crime to step up our efforts to root out those who organise and carry out such acts of violence. The solutions however lie beyond the power of law enforcement agencies alone. Government, local authorities and those in education or in working for their communities, have a role to play in re-building neighbourhoods and securing a more stable environment for the future. In particular young people must be diverted from the gun culture which is clearly developing." In Birmingham, scene of the fatal shooting of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, in Birchfield Road, Aston, on January 2, Assistant Chief Constable Nick Tofiluk, has been tasked with setting up a co-ordinating group to tackle armed criminality in the West Midlands. ACC Tofiluk says: ‘The issues surrounding gun crime are complex and involve many different factors. It is important that we don’t simply adopt a knee jerk solution but look for a longer-term strategy which, as well as addressing enforcement issues, looks at the whole cultural issue of gun crime, and what attracts people to this type of crime in the first place. Gun crime is not just a police problem and we are keen to work closely with partner agencies in addressing these longer-term issues.’
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What Tories say
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For the Conservatives, Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin condemned the Government’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ crime policy after it emerged in the national press that the Metropolitan Police no longer even bother to investigate many burglary offences. Within days of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, claiming that the public don’t want to see housebreakers jailed, it was reported that the Met has told officers to follow up only those burglaries which are ‘deemed solvable using proportionate resources’. Mr Letwin, the Shadow Home Secretary retorted: ‘This is straight out of Alice in Wonderland. During the last week, burglars have been sent a clear signal that they won’t be investigated, and that even if they are investigated they won’t go to jail. Many people will see this as the final nail in the coffin of this Government’s policy on crime. Burglars have in effect been given the green light to carry on burgling. Instead of zero tolerance, we are faced with total tolerance.’ Mr Letwin was alluding to how Tony Blair was elected to power in 1997 pledging to be ‘tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’. Mr Lewtin added: ‘The problem in a nutshell is that during the last five years the Government has been tough on rhetoric, tough on the police, weak on crime, and non-existent on the causes of crime.’

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