Where Does the Data Come From?
The report describes trends found in data collected from three sources, including the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS). Polling businesses throughout the UK, the CVS investigates crime committed against the hospitality, transport & logistics, manufacturing and retail sectors. This source indicates that in 2012, 91% of crimes committed against businesses could be classified as property crime, an umbrella label covering a range of offences including vandalism.
What Does It Tell Us?
Since retail and wholesale is the largest of the sectors included in the study, it comes as no surprise that businesses in this category suffered the most crime of all.
The majority of criminal offences in 2012 involved theft by customers, with fraud and assaults in joint second place. Robbery came next, then vandalism, both crimes affecting larger businesses much more frequently than smaller ones.
Bleak though this may sound, especially to those in the retail industry, the message is optimistic: crime against the retail and wholesale sector has fallen over the last decade. The proportion of businesses suffering theft has gone down from 43% to 21% since 2002, and those hit by vandalism fell from 23% to 16%. As with the overall figures for crime, the CVS findings show a constant decrease since the 1990s.
Is the Trend Reliable?
Since statistics are vulnerable to technical errors, and since it’s common for them to be misused in the service of a particular argument, it always pays to ask whether the reported tendency is real or an artefact. This question is especially relevant here, because of acknowledged differences in the methods used to collect data between different years of the survey. However, the results of the CVS point in the same direction as those of the other two studies, so it is reasonable to believe that the observed fall in vandalism is indeed real.
What Are the Possible Causes?
Different experts have come up with a variety of explanations for the downward trend in retail vandalism across Britain. One is the fact that today’s young people are a sober bunch, taking fewer drugs and drinking less alcohol than their predecessors.
Another is the death of boredom: the steepest period of decline in crime corresponds to the advent of the smartphone, which brought music, books, gaming and social interaction within easy reach of every teenager.
It probably helps that the industry is getting smarter about managing the risk of crime, and in how it responds to vandalism when it does happen.
Sophisticated security measures such as galvanised steel shutters are becoming more prevalent: these protect the entrance and windows of business premises, removing the opportunity for acts of vandalism. Plus, sociological research reveals that prompt action to repair the damage caused by vandalism makes repeat incidents much more likely, a finding which is now well known and used by retailers.
Given these surprising findings about the falling rate of vandalism in the wholesale and retail sector, it is tempting to conclude that vandalism is no longer a problem for retailers.
This would be unwise. Although today’s teenagers may well have better things to do than commit acts of vandalism, the downward trend could also be due to the more effective anti-vandal measures taken by businesses. In which case, the price of freedom from retail vandalism really is eternal vigilance.
If you are interested in keeping your property secure and safe from the threat of criminals, get in touch with us today by calling 01384 221 743 or contact us online.