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Courts should hand down tougher sentences for crimes against businesses, say company owners

The latest national survey finds a quarter of businesses were impacted by crime last year.

Shoplifter stealing a t-shirt in store.
Shoplifter stealing a t-shirt in store.
Image: Shutterstock/SpeedKingz

TOUGHER SENTENCES SHOULD be handed down by the courts for crimes against business, says the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME).

The national survey, based on responses of 1,184 companies, found that over 31% of businesses have been impacted by crime in the last 12 months.

ISME says sentences for crimes against businesses should be “reassessed to ensure that they are an adequate deterrent”.

On a regional basis the highest incidence of crime was reported in Dublin city (47%), followed by Dublin county, 36%. Munster had the least incidence of crime at 19%.

Theft, burglary and vandalism 

Theft by outsiders was the most common crime reported, at 32%, closely followed by burglary (29%), attempted burglary (24%) and vandalism (27%).

The retail sector was most affected by crime at 45%. It was followed by construction and distribution at 36% and 31% respectively.

In good news for businesses, there was a drop in the number of businesses that had experienced at least two incidences of crime in the last year, down from 48% to 45%.

Businesses also saw a fall in theft by members of staff, down from 21% to 11% this year.

Owners and managers showed little confidence in the judicial system, with just 12% of respondents stating that they are confident that if they were a victim of crime that the criminal would be apprehended.

There was no change in garda satisfaction ratings. Of those that reported a crime to the gardaí, 69% were satisfied with the response received.

Lack of faith in the justice system 

“The reduction of business crime is fundamental to business prosperity and is not being prioritised by government. The business community has the right to expect that, when found guilty; a perpetrator of crime against business will be dealt with appropriately within the legal system. This survey clearly shows that there is a total lack of faith in the justice system, as 98% of respondents feel that it is ineffective in dealing with business crime,” said ISME CEO, Mark Fielding.

The survey says that crime is costing small and medium businesses in Ireland €6,570 per year, with the cost of prevention coming in at €5,428 per enterprise.

This gives a total average cost per company of €11,998.

Fielding also criticised the lack of categorisation of crime statistics.

The fact is that there is no classification for ‘Commercial or Business Crime’ – it is either ‘domestic’ or ‘non-domestic’ and therefore, there are no ‘official’ statistics. What isn’t measured isn’t managed.

The group has made a number of recommendations to tackle the issue.

ISME says increased levels of CCTV surveillance, particularly in town centres, and increasing the number of gardaí on patrol by outsourcing administrative duties to the private sector will reduce the crime rates.

“The government has a responsibility to act now to ensure that the detrimental impact of crime against business; the economy, local communities and employment is reduced,” said Fielding.

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