Business, crime and crime prevention

Emerging debates and future challenges

Authored by: Matt Hopkins , Martin Gill

Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138851054
eBook ISBN: 9781315724393
Adobe ISBN:


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Although recent estimates suggest that a significant proportion of all crime is committed directly against businesses (see Home Office 2013, 2014, 2015; Williams, 2016), it is also apparent that businesses often hold information and expertise that can aid local partnerships and law enforcement in the detection and prevention of crime. 1 Direct threats to businesses – including property crime, violent crime and online or internet crime – not only have financial consequences and affect staff well-being, but can also impact on location decisions and in extreme cases result in business closure (Burrows and Hopkins, 2005). This can obviously have a negative effect on communities in terms of employment opportunities and the availability of goods and services (Burrows and Hopkins, 2005; Levi and Hyde, 2013; Levi, 2014). Of course, crime threats to businesses are unevenly distributed across different sectors and within the individual business unit, the threat of experiencing some crime types – such as threats and assaults – will be higher for ‘frontline staff’ than senior directors or office staff (Levi and Hyde, 2013). While most businesses would concur that being ‘crime free’ is a desirable aim, many lack a clear sense of the extent of losses they face from crime (see Beck, 2009) and will often ‘tolerate’ a certain level of crime if it does not impact too heavily on profit margins/shrinkage (Tilley, 2010). Indeed, many of the routine activities of businesses – such as the marketing of products and services, contact with the public and long/unsocial working hours – can both attract and generate crime. Thus, for many enterprises, being able to ‘do business’ effectively has to be balanced with crime threats and the effort required to prevent crime.

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