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Security management is a task that required diverse skills which include human management, time management and some fundamental theories as guiding principles. The essence of the knowledge of these theories as it relates to criminology to Security Managers should not be undermined in order to have and effectively achieve the organisations set goals or key performance indicators. This essay shall focus on how the knowledge of these theories could enhance the performance of a security Manager in the work place in relation to theft and theft related offences in the retail business environment. Although, some of the other common offences in the workplace are not limited to fraud, criminal damage, burglary, robbery and various forms of assault. (BRC Retail Crime Survey 2009:pg10).
Various reports to include the crime survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) confirms that thefts in the retail shops are being perpetrated by employees, or customers which covers those who are not under the category of the organisation's labour force. However, theft by customers increased by a 33% between 2008 and 2009. It was also revealed by BRC's research that there were almost half a million thefts on a average per annum which is almost an incident per minute. However, an estimated cost of £1.1bn has been projected for the industry.
It is worth mentioning here though not a major aspect of the essay that the research confirmed that almost 22,000 staff of selected 60 majors stores for the research, with over 1.1million staff strength were of the opinion that they have been verbally abused and subjected to violence by customers in the past.. (BRC Retail Crime Survey, 2009).
From the BRC report, it has been indicated that Customer theft accounted for 42% of total thefts in the industry and damage losses by value. Whereas, employee theft only represents 7% of all retail crime by value and this formally stood at 8%. However, more than 75% of retailers accept that fraud has soared over the last 12 months, with a financial increase from £10 million to £18.7 million last year. (BRC Retail Crime Survey, 2009)
On many occasions, there are always complimentary offences but aspects relating to theft shall be considered in this essay. There have been several schools of thought in relation to applying criminological theories to crime management. They suggested that effective crime managements could only be achieved by using these theories conjunctively. Strengths and weaknesses of these theories shall be analysed and their relevance to the theft management in a retail business environment shall also be considered. The class of the offenders guilty of this crime, motivational factors and how they are carried out shall also be discussed using the appropriate theories and a strategy to managing and reducing delinquency.
In the course of this essay, references shall be made to theft in accordance with its definition as contained in the sourcebook on criminal law 2nd edition by Molan, Michael T, and also defined by the home office; 1968 theft act sets out definition of theft as depicted below;
"â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and 'thief' and 'steal' shall be construed accordingly." (Theft Act 1968 sec 1:1)
In the course of this essay, employees' involvement in stealing from their employer shall be looked into. Shoplifting is a common delinquency in the retail business which impact negatively on the stock shrinkage and cost of business insurance. In a nutshell, how this crime affects the organisation, employee, customers and the entire community shall be discussed in this essay. Some of the petty crimes committed by employee are not preconceived by them but due to lack of indebt knowledge of what constitutes crime. For-instance, an employee using part of their stocks such as stationeries, souvenirs for self benefit as defined in the theft act 1968 is guilty of the offence. However, some of the Identity theft crimes are in connivance with the organisations employees who occasionally pretend not to have seen the crime. These are perpetrated using the drivers' licence and bank statements of others.
"â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦Fraud is an act of deception carried out for the purpose of unfair, undeserved and/or unlawful gain, especially financial gain". (BRC Retail Crime Survey, 2009:pg24).
". . . . . . . . . .Card fraud in the BCS (British Crime Survey) is defined as using plastic payment cards, such as bank, debit, credit or store cards, to take money without permission or prior knowledge from a bank, building society or credit card account (or to charge money to credit/debit cards). (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 08/10:pg25)
However, it was noted in the 2008/09 BCS report that plastic card owners who had fallen victim of card fraud has increased in proportion. Only 6.4 per cent of card fraud victim confirmed that they were aware that crimes have been committed using their card within the last 12 month compared to 4.7 per cent in the previous year, 2007/08. This indicates an upward trend since 2006/07. (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 08/10:pg25)
In a bid to demonstrate why people commit crime, the motivational factors, and various groups of people with criminal behaviours and how combinations of criminological theories help in crime management, Rational Choice and Routine Activities theories shall be considered in relation to their relevance to crime management in a mobile phone retailer like Carphone Warehouse Plc. Rational Choice theorists believe that offenders' decision to commit crime is based on the available opportunity and that the benefit of their crime outweighing the costs or efforts. (Nagin et al, 2002). Rational choice theorists believe that crime is a function of individual choice which is influenced by its costs and benefits.
Researches have shown that out of 50 interviewees used for a research on shoplifting, 88% admitted that they have shoplifted. However, 42% of these people take stealing as the only way of to earn their living while shoplifting is the main source of income to 40% of the interviewees. Though the average age of the offenders as gathered during the interview stood at 12years. (Schneider, 2005)
It is important to have the indebt knowledge of crime costs and its benefit, proportionate sentence and the types of punishment given to those who have committed similar crime in the past or whether they avoided punishments. With this knowledge in place, it will be more likely to deter crime if its costs are made higher than the benefits. (e.g., more efforts being required to commit crime like enhancing the protection in place such as target hardening, with more punishments when offenders are caught). In a situation where costs and punishments are certain motivated offenders would not want to subject themselves into the associated punishment having being involved in lots of hard work before committing the offence. (Cullen & Agnew, 2002).
Rational choice theory is very extensive in range with simple basic elements which are strong but at the same time flexible. Offenders' decisions between choices at every point in time tend to be rational. However, the facts of the theory stands that for any crime to be committed, the perceived benefits associated with the crime outweigh its risk. Some people have taking criminal behaviour as a way of life. In some situations, decisions to commit crime are arrived at due to inadequate information available at the time of decision making and all these put together still reflect the important role opportunity plays in criminal act. In addition to opportunity, importance of the environment on crime cannot be undermined. However, in certain situations, offenders hardly ever have a detailed thought of all the various costs and benefits of their action because decisions are taken spontaneously. (Felson & Clarke, 1998).
In theory, there are three broad categories of offenders or workplace violence perpetrators which are the employee, strangers and the intending or potential customers or clients (Chappell and Di Martino, 2000). These employees in most cases take advantage of imperfect system to increase their organisation's inventory shrinkage level. In an ideal business environment, organisation should have records of their inventory through regular stock counts and new loss prevention book page 29
(Get UK stats on stock shrinkage). *****(Find recent source from the UK).
In a bid to control and manage crime, Opportunity-reducing techniques are a vital approach which could be achieved by increasing the perceived effort of crime by target hardening, security control access to target and deflecting offenders from target. However, in cases of card theft, crime facilitators could be controlled by having the owners' photos on credit cards, using plastic beer glasses in pubs etc. Another technique involves increasing the perceived risks of crime by security screening, formal surveillance by employees, manned guarding, CCTV and effective lightning which could take the place of a Natural surveillance and help in obtaining footage through the use of technology. Anticipated rewards of crime should also be reduced so as to discourage criminal act. Targets could be removed; there could be property marking, and reducing temptations by ensuring that every motivational factor is put under control. Educating everyone on codes of conducts, and acceptable norms would eliminate the excuses of being ignorant (Clarke, 1997). *****(Find recent source from the UK).
It is important to understand the opportunities that facilitate workplace crime in order to combat or reduce the criminal act. In America, introduction of Caller identification devices have removed obscene and threatening phone calls which ordinarily depends upon telephone access and the ability of the caller to hide his own identity. However, rates of other crimes such as car theft and burglary would also be higher when, in fact, they are lower in Britain and some other countries in Europe. Rather, the much higher homicide rates of the United States result from the widespread availability of handguns, which means that the opportunity to carry out a quick but deadly attack is much greater, even when the victim is stronger than the attacker (Felson 1998). This implies that once a particular type of crime is put under control, there is tendency that the motivated offenders would always get deflected and discovers other crime types or targets. (Recent UK stats on theft). NO reference to US.
(Recent UK stats on theft). Customer theft remains the major source of retail crime, accounting for 42 per cent of all theft and damage losses by value. Last year the Retail Crime Survey reported a fall in customer thefts, in line with general acquisitive crime trends reported by the Home Office. Since then there has been a sharp reversal, returning the number of incidents to the levels experienced in 2004-05 and close to the five year rolling average, at 3,601 per 100 stores. This is a rise of 34 per cent in a single year.
The survey recorded 498,405 incidents of customer theft in total. However, last year's survey revealed that retailers suspect they identify perhaps as little as half of all customer theft. The real level of customer theft experienced by respondents was probably somewhere in the region of 750,000 to 1 million thefts - or even as high as 2 million if grossed up to account for the whole industry.
During 2008-09 the value stolen per incident has continued to decline as retailers continue to improve the protection of high value items. The average value of goods stolen fell by 34 per cent to £45 per theft. This is less than half (43 per cent) of the five year rolling average value. Whilst individual customer thefts may be many times this value, this average figure falls comfortably within the scope of Penalty Notices for Disorder, a disposal available to the police for first time offenders involved in low value crimes. Nevertheless, only about one third (37 per cent) of customer thefts are reported to the police.
As a result Police Authorities, Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, and Neighbourhood Policing Teams are unlikely to be aware of the level of customer theft occurring in an area. This is reflected in national figures of reported crime which bear no resemblance to retailers' experience. Consequently policing priorities will not reflect actual levels of crime on High Streets and other shopping locations.
(BRC Retail Crime Survey, Pages 12-13, 2009).
It has been gathered through a research that majority of those who commit robberies find themselves in the act with the reason that they needed money; which implies that they did it to earn their living. It does not necessarily mean that these people are unemployed but it is a way of making ends meets (Gill 2005). Due to the fact that every individual has tendencies to steal, environment and the perceived risks also influence people to steal. We cannot rule out the fact that some people have taken stealing as a career as they have never worked or had proper education on the menace of theft. These people take advantage of every opportunity as explained by the rational theorists.
However, contrary to rational choice theory which believes that opportunity is the main factor responsible for crime occurrence, routine activity theory as described by Cohen & Felson explained in one of their published articles in 1979 suggests that Crime occurs when there is an intersection in time and space of a motivated offender, an attractive target and lack of capable guardianship. Changes in routine activities in society (e.g. where both couples are working, construction of new roads) can influence crime rates. People's daily routine activities affect the likelihood of crime being committed (Cullen & Agnew 2002). *****(Find recent source from the UK).
" . . . . .The routine activity approach still offers the best explanation for the rise in burglary in the United States and Western Europe during the 1960s and 1970s. Included in this explanation is the finding that the best predictor of annual burglary rates is the weight of the smallest television set sold each year. Another important component of the explanation is that far more homes in this period were left unguarded in the day as more women entered Full-time paid work. In fact, the most general explanation of crime rate trends is an indicator of the dispersion of activities away from family and household settings. As people spend more time among strangers and away from their own homes, their risk of personal and property victimization rises" (Felson and Clarke, 1998). Find recent UK source, get rid of US.
There are some elements and conditions which must be fulfilled for a crime to take place. These elements as analysed by routine activity theorists include suitable target, potential offender, suitable time, place and lack of capable guardianship. A suitable target as described by criminologists could be perceived as a person, a business, consumer product or premises. However, crime risk is reduced if the target is perceived not to be highly suitable or of low value to the offenders. It is therefore a crime prevention approach to reduce the perceived suitability of a target if the Security Manager thinks that the cost of increasing security of a target is high. A motivated offender is practically anyone who has desires to obtain a service or a substance which he has not acquired a legal ownership of. Offenders customarily make choices between committing crimes based on projected opportunities and rewards. Every individual has some possibility of committing crime depending on their circumstances and the available opportunities. If given a chance, or the right "opportunity", any person could commit a crime (Felson & Clark, 1998). *****(Find recent source from the UK).
Every individual has specific areas in which they carry out their daily routine activities and this is rather called the activity space, Domain or a potential path area. This area includes both the places that are visited, route to such locations from their places of abode and places of daily or routine activities. In as much as people are not static, crime will have a non-static nature. In reality, some places, properties or facilities attract more crime than others. In some circumstances, these are the places where people visit very often like the Accident and Emergency department of hospitals, hospital car parks, isolated off-street parking etc. These are locations where people leave their cars while visiting and tend to leave valuables in the car due to the nature or the concern at the time of the visit. (RE-word)
It is important to understand that in routine activity theory, crime do occur when there is interaction between a potential offender and a suitable target in time and space; opportunity which is being created by the lack of capable guardianship cannot be undermined. It is very essential to identify the available opportunities and put in place measures to either make these opportunities not attractive or show that the cost outweighs the benefits. These could be achieved through the use of Security devices and technology, proper lighting of an area, orientation and educating staff and visitors through various audio visual devices etc. Some businesses and organisations use combine procedures as customer service, training and crime prevention technologies e.g., cameras, electronic tag systems to control and manage crime (Hayes 1991). *****(Find recent source UK).
Criminological theories play important roles in crime control and management as guidelines to what a Manager should look out for and how these factors should be managed in order for him to effectively achieve the organisation's set target in a bit to reduce crime. In some occasions where the capable guardianship is available, theft are being attacked by the detectives in the store or those on patrol which eventually broadcast warning signs to others who have the intention to commit crime that the area is not safe for their intending activities. (Hayes, 1993; Jones, 1998) *****(Find recent source UK).
Researchers have shown that some offenders are professional shoplifter and have taken it as a career. They shoplift to orders in which case, there is a willing buyer who have indicated interest in purchasing a specific item. These career based shoplifter look for those specified items. In the course of their action, they might see some items which they perceive would be easy for them to sell and shoplift along with their order. However, they are not unaware of the security systems in most of the shops they visit, but they work around the security system and they know when and where to perpetrate the act (Gill 2005). Same applies to identity and card theft which leads to other person's details and bank cards being used for purchases and to obtain items or services on termed/contract basis in the telecommunication industry. (RE-word)
There have always been campaigns that tell credit card users not to have their cards' pin number written down but in most shopping centres, these criminal do present the card to the merchant, use a wrong pin number and in some cases inform them that they have forgotten the pin number. The attendants use the swipe facility on the POS (Point of Sale) machine and ask them to sign the payment slip that is generated. There is a flaw on the part of the merchant as in most cases, they compare the signature on the card signature strip with the one signed by the offender, who must have practised forging the signature. Instead of this, a photo ID card like drivers licence or passport would be ideal to be used to verify the signature and identity in such situations.
In the current economic world, Identity theft is a serious crime which involves the use of an individual's stolen personal information, credit and financial details. It has been disclosed by the Federal Trade Commission that 8.3 million U.S. citizens were victims of this crime in 2005 and these figures have soared by 22 percent by 2007 (Smith, 2009). Besides the fact that this is a serious crime, Identity theft do have a great emotional impact on its victims. It's unfortunate that the victims in most cases are unaware of how their records were obtained which ultimately make some of them feels vulnerable, angry, depressed and stressed depending on the extent of the economic damage cause to them. In countries like Britain, this also have negative impact on the victims' credit report and score. Although the law protects victims from being financially accountable for the fraud committed in their names, the credit rating could have been affected even before realizing what has happened. *****(Find recent source from the UK).
"â€¦â€¦â€¦Fraud costs the UK in excess of £20 Billion. It recognised fraud as a low priority within UK Policing and the UK itself as having an uncoordinated approach".
(Simms C, Chief Constable West Midlands Police, 2010).
In theory, victims are protected by law and most of the conveniences extended to them in the past will no longer be available when the credit reporting agencies have been contacted to report the crimes that thereby impress a theft flag on the victim's credit file. Future lenders would be sceptical in exposing themselves to such customers and as such would be demanding for additional information and documents to verify the genuineness of the person requesting for credit facilities.
It has been estimated by the British Retail Consortium that there is an increase in the total cost of retail crime of 10 per cent in 2008-09 compared with 2007-08. Retail crime cost UK retailers £1.1 billion in 2008-09 (the cost of losses through theft and damage plus the cost of crime prevention measures).
BRC Retail Crime Survey, (2009).
There are various reasons why people do commit an offence most of which are not based on their needs but as a result of their low level of education. An employee who takes home some of the office stationeries and equipments on the ground that they are not being used or just for him to use might not have thought that it is tantamount to theft until he is adequately informed. Contrarily, employees commit theft to compensate themselves for the fact that they have not got job satisfaction or they believe that the company is paying them less than what they deserve. And as an avenue to remedy the perceived inequity with their employers (Greenberg, 1997). More also, some employees atimes perceive this as an avenue of getting back at the employer who has failed to provide them with job satisfaction as they are being ripped off (Altheide et al., 1978).
However, there are different types of customers who visit the organisations on daily basis. Some visit with the intention to shoplift, window shop, to see demonstration of new products and to purchase products. It is certain that these groups of customers, with different motives behave differently when they are in the shop and their approaches to staff differ. This is where the level of education on delinquent and staff awareness about customers' behaviour have to be improved upon. Security and safety at work place is every employees' responsibility and they are not to increase opportunities for theft to occur which invariably has a negative impact on the entire populace at large. (RE-word)
Theft as a workplace crime, impacts negatively on every individual that have activities with the organisation. The business operational costs are increased as a result of losses due to theft and these costs are passed on to their clients and employees. In most cases, it results to increasing costs of security maintenance, insurance premium and other elements of operational costs which will affect employees' benefits depending on the magnitude of losses suffered by the organisation. The economic effect of employees' theft being the major contributor to inventory shrinkage in US has been estimated at $400 per year to every family (Hollinger and Clark, 1983). This has an inflationary effect of 10 to 15% on the price of consumer goods (Consumer reports, 2002). *****(Find recent source UK).
(Recent UK source) For some years retailers have taken action to reduce theft by employees as a serious threat to their businesses. In 2008-09 employee theft accounted for 7 per cent of all retail crime by value.
Employee theft includes theft of anything of value from the retailer by an employee or an accomplice, such as stealing merchandise, cash, retaining receipts, voiding a sale after a customer has paid and taking the cash, overcharging, short-changing, false mark-downs, coupon and voucher stuffing, credits for non-existent returns or exchanging counterfeit goods for genuine merchandise, and sliding a product through a lane without charging. It can also include serious financial fraud, involving senior or managerial staff.
The incidence of employee theft remained constant at four per thousand employees this year. This is just over half the five year average and shows that last year's gains have largely been maintained despite changes in economic circumstances and reductions in working hours and commission for many retail staff. Improved security measures and investigations by expert staff appear to have reduced the opportunity for offences therefore deterring employee-related crime.
(BRC Retail Crime Survey 2008, Page 15).
It is apparent that the costs of crime at workplace are immeasurable as some of them cannot be quantified. This include business disruptions, affects employee morale, loss of customs, management time being wasted on incident reporting and documentation, increased insurance premium and increased risk factors of the business (British Chambers of Commerce, 2002). High level workplace theft may also lead to company insolvency. Based on this, it is very important to understand the workplace and the nature of crime facing the business before putting in place any crime anticipatory measures or displacement measures. Rational choice emphasised the fact that opportunity is core in the decision making by the offenders when it comes to delinquencies. (RE-word)
It is obvious from all indications that once the opportunity is displaced or made unnoticed to be of any value, a motivated offender would not pay attention to the target. As a result of this, opportunity has to be identified, modified and could be at a cost which will be economical rather than allowing the crime to be perpetrated before putting in place a control. By virtue of the fact that opportunity is requisite to crime occurrence, it is agreeable that rational choice theory interrelates with the routine activity theory which believes that crime can only happen when there is interception of certain elements. Cohen and Felson's (1979) routine activity theory explained the fact that occurrence of crime is as a result of the opportunity of the following factors coming in contact: Motivated offender, suitable target and lack of capable guardianship in a place. *****(Find recent source UK).
Working in an environment where there is an opportunity of having access to money and property does not translate to committing crime. This shows a subjective aspect of opportunity. It is therefore important to understand that certain factors like social desirability for the product or property, concealability of target and proximity do have supportive role to play in conjunction with opportunity for theft to occur (Hollinger and Clarke, 1983). *****(Find recent source UK).
In conclusion, it is therefore necessary that a Security Manager, who has understood the environment where he works, should identify the risk elements, opportunities, and motivational factors for a potential offenders, use the combine knowledge of these theories to design an approach to forestall all avenues for crime to occur. Security Manager should ensure that the knowledge acquire from these theories are put into action by ensuring that opportunities are identified and modified to suit his organisational goal as it relates to crime reduction. This could be achieved by; reducing the excuses for theft and frauds by ensuring that employees plight are listened to, reduce any anticipated reward from the act by putting in place a punishment that is commensurate to the offence, ensure that the perceived risks of being caught and punished is in place, and the efforts should be made higher than the benefits. (RE-word)
The combine knowledge of rational choice and routine activities theories cannot be undermined which give an insight into what to look out for and how to put in place the preventive measures to control crime. Theft as a workplace crime can be managed by understanding what items the offenders looking out for, opportunities surrounding such items, characteristics of the targets and detailed understanding of the environment where the targets are situated. It is therefore evident that the knowledge of criminological theories has an immense role to play in assisting the security Manager to manage crime in workplace. (RE-word)
Must be completed by; 10TH JANUARY 2011