Small firms have no faith in justice after crimes

Isme chief executive Mark Fielding

Owners of small companies have no faith that criminals who target their trade will be brought to justice, at a time when the total cost of crime against businesses amounts to €1.62bn per year.

Their disillusionment is not confined to the judiciary. Almost one third of business owners that were surveyed by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) — as part of its 2015 national crime survey — said they were dissatisfied with the Garda response when they reported being the victim of crime.

More than a third of the survey respondents (36%) were impacted by crime in the last 12 months at an average cost per company of just over €14,000, and the vast majority were victims of crime more than once.

The Putting Crime out of Business survey also found that:

  • Two-thirds of business- owners were not covered by insurance for their loss due to crime;
  • The highest incidence of crime was reported in Dublin City (48%), followed by Munster 35%;
  • Vandalism and antisocial behaviour were big concerns for Munster business — almost half (46%) said that they were affected by these crimes;
  • Dublin City was largely affected by ‘theft by outsiders’ — eg, shoplifting;
  • Retail was the sector most affected by crime, followed by services and construction;
  • Some 98% of SME business -owners saw the judicial system as ineffective in the fight against crime;
  • One fifth did not report a crime to the gardaí.

Isme chief executive Mark Fielding said the fact that one in five crimes went unreported reflected the lack of faith in the judicial system and that sentencing needed to fit the crime.

He said the Government had a responsibility to act to reduce the impact of crime against business on the economy, local communities, and employment rates.

“The current Government is primarily focused on generating jobs,” said Mr Fielding. “It must also focus on decreasing the scourge of business crime which jeopardises existing jobs and acts as a barrier to the creation of new employment.”

Isme is calling for the introduction of an official classification for commercial or business crime — a single, national definition that would allow offences “to be properly tagged, measured, analysed, and ultimately solved by the gardaí”.

“What isn’t measured isn’t managed,” Mr Fielding said.

The organisation also wants a dedicated section for business crime in the annual report of the Garda commissioner.

In addition to tougher sentencing, businesses want more visible policing and increased CCTV surveillance, particularly in town centres.


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