Crime and Criminal Justice Research Findings No. 38Counting the cost:
Crime against business in Scotland
The restaurants/takeaways and pubs/clubs sub-sectors
John Burrows (MHB) and Dave Ingram (System Three Social Research)
While the Scottish Crime Survey routinely collects data about crimes against individuals and their households, there has never been any equivalent investigation of the impact of crime on Scotland's businesses. In November 1999, the Scottish Executive, in partnership with the Scottish Business Crime Centre, presented the findings of the first research enquiry into the extent, nature and costs of crime as it affects businesses in Scotland. The research was carried out to help develop the Business Crime Reduction Strategy for Scotland, the objective of which is "to reduce crime in Scotland to create a safe and secure trading environment in which businesses flourish". This summary forms part of a series of detailed analyses of sub-sectors found to experience the highest incidence of crime.
- across the 15 business sub-sectors surveyed in the course of the Scottish Business Crime Survey, restaurants and takeaways experienced the highest incidence rate, derived by calculating the total number of reported crimes across the targets at risk. Pubs and clubs had the fifth highest incidence rate.
- however, a higher proportion of pubs and clubs than restaurants and takeaways experienced crime during 1998 (67% and 62% respectively).
- this apparent discrepancy is accounted for by the high level of repeat victimisation experienced by restaurants and takeaways: those that had experienced crime suffered, on average, 16 incidents in that time, while pubs and clubs suffered 9. The very high victimisation figure for restaurants and takeaways is largely attributable to high numbers of violent incidents.
- 16% of pubs and clubs experienced actual violent crime during 1998, compared to only 3% of businesses overall.
- crime is heavily targeted at a relatively small proportion of businesses: one in ten premises accounts for 68% of the total crime count amongst restaurants and takeaways and 58% amongst pubs and clubs.
- the prevalence of crime - that is, the number of business premises affected - amongst pubs and clubs is significantly higher than for all the businesses surveyed, but, for restaurants and takeaways, is only slightly higher. But the high number of crimes experienced by victims serves to increase incidence rates.
- in both sub sectors, just over half of all cases of repeat victimisation (53% for restaurants/takeaways and 55% for pubs/clubs) occur within eight weeks of the preceding incident. This is very similar to the average for all businesses surveyed.
The Scottish Survey of Business Crime (SBC) research examined the experience of crime across five principal business sectors:
- wholesale and retail
- hotels and restaurants
- transport and telecommunications
These five business sectors account for some £24 billion turnover, at factor cost, or just under half (46%) of GDP in Scotland. In aggregate, they account for some 65,000 VAT-registered firms within Scotland and employ a workforce of about one million.
One of the principal findings of the overall survey was that, while there are differences in crime rates (in terms of crime prevalence and incidence) between sectors, analysis at the level of business sub-sector seemed to present a more precise indication of crime risk in terms of 'labels' that are more widely understood. For example, in the 'transport and telecommunications' sector, the incidence of crime against the 'public transport' sub-sector is more than eight times that experienced by businesses in the 'water and air transport' sub-sector.
The incidence of crime - that is the total number of crimes spread across all the targets at risk - is presented in Figure 1. This indicates that, across the 15 sub-sectors (or Standard Industrial Classification divisions) restaurants and takeaways experienced the highest incidence rate and pubs and clubs had the fifth highest incidence rate.
The hotels/restaurants sector comprises the restaurants/takeaways, pubs/clubs and hotels sub-sectors. In Scotland, this sector employs some 129,000 staff and has an annual turnover of roughly £3.5 billion. The restaurants/takeaways sub-sector accounts for approximately 3,500 business premises in Scotland and pubs/clubs 2,100.
Figure 1- Incidence of crime
Crime risks for restaurants/ takeaways and pubs/clubs
One priority of the research was to consider in particular how many businesses experience crime at all (that is, crime prevalence), and how many crime incidents are experienced across all the business targets 'at risk' (that is, crime incidence). It concluded:
- 62% of the restaurants and takeaways, and 67% of the pubs and clubs, under review experienced crime during 1998. Both figures are higher than the prevalence rate for all the businesses surveyed (58%).
- nearly six in ten (57% and 58%, respectively) had experienced some form of property crime. For restaurants and takeaways, vandalism and break-ins proved the most common property crimes (mirroring the experience of businesses as a whole), but thefts by employees constituted the third most common event. For pubs and clubs, vandalism is easily the most common occurrence (affecting 36%, against 22% of businesses in general), followed by break-ins and thefts by employees.
- over a quarter of restaurants and takeaways and more than a third of pubs and clubs had experienced violent crime (25% and 36%, respectively). For both sub-sectors, threats of violence are the most common events, but 16% of pubs and clubs experience actual violence, compared to only 3% of all the businesses surveyed.
- substantial numbers of those businesses that fall victim to crime do so on more than one occasion: 46% of restaurants and takeaways and 49% of pubs and clubs experienced more than one offence in 1998.
Figure 2 presents the proportion of non-victims and premises victimised on one, two or three and four or more occasions for businesses in the sub-sectors under review, as well as for their parent sector (restaurants/hotels) and for all the businesses surveyed.
Figure 2 - Prevalence of all crime
- those restaurant and takeaway businesses which had experienced crime suffered, on average, 16 incidents (a very high figure), with pubs and clubs suffering 9 (the average for all the businesses surveyed).
- the types of crime most likely to be repeated for restaurants/takeaways were employee thefts, violent attacks and threats of violence and for pubs/clubs they were threats, outsider thefts and violent attacks.
- crime is heavily concentrated in its impact: one in ten premises accounts for over two-thirds of the total crime count (68%) amongst restaurants and takeaways, but a lower 58% of the total crime count amongst pubs and clubs.
- in terms of the overall incidence of crime against restaurants and takeaways, the most common incidents are threats of violence and thefts by employees (Figure 3).
Figure 3 - Distribution of crime: restaurants and takeaways
- by comparison with other businesses, the pattern of crime in this sub-sector is marked by the high level of violent attacks, thefts by employees, threats of violence and vandalism. Breaks-ins and thefts of/from vehicles are comparatively rare (Figure 4).
Figure 4 - Types of crime to which restaurants and takeaways are highly vulnerable
- it can be estimated that the 3,500 businesses in the restaurants/takeaways sub-sector experienced some 34,040 incidents in 1998.
- in terms of the overall incidence of crime against pubs and clubs, the most common incidents are threats of violence and vandalism, particularly to equipment and stock (Figure 5).
Figure 5 - Distribution of crime: pubs and clubs
- by comparison with other businesses, the pattern of crime in this sub-sector is marked by the high levels of violent attacks, threats of violence and vandalism. Breaks-ins, frauds, and thefts by either 'outsiders' or employees are comparatively rare (Figure 6).
Figure 6 - Types of crime to which pubs and clubs are highly vulnerable
- it can be estimated that the 2,100 businesses in the pubs/clubs sub-sector experienced some 12,580 incidents in 1998.
Patterns of repeat victimisation
The full report of the SBC indicated that, where victims could recall the time at which second or later offences of the same type occurred, most seemed to be repeated within a short period of time. Questions about the 'time lapse' between repeats were asked in respect of break-ins, vandalism and vehicle thefts. Overall, 55% of these incidents occurred within eight weeks of the preceding incident (when victims were able to recall the times). Moreover, a substantial minority (40%) believed the incidents were connected.
For restaurants and takeaways:
- 53%, a marginally lower proportion, occurred within eight weeks.
- only 26% of businesses believed the repeat incidents they experienced were connected to one another.
For pubs and clubs:
- 55% of repeats, the same proportion as for all the businesses surveyed, occurred within eight weeks.
again, a smaller proportion (30%) of businesses believed the repeat incidents they experienced were connected to one another.
Figure 7 - Time lapse between incidents
Other factors, beyond the type of business conducted, associated with crime risk
The results of the main survey, together with the lessons drawn from site visits and interviews with selected businesses, led to the findings that crime risks are affected by a variety of factors.
There are first those factors on which the survey was able to gather reliable data: these include the region in which businesses operate; the immediate surroundings in which businesses operate; the type of goods stored and manufactured and the hours worked by staff. It appears that some of these factors serve to increase risk in the restaurant/takeaway sub-sector, for example:
- staff operating these businesses tend to work long hours each day, as well as Saturday and Sunday;
- they tend to store cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol, all of which increase risk;
- many are located in city centres.
By the same token, the following factors seem to increase crime risks in pubs and clubs:
- nearly all are open for long hours: this sub-sector is particularly vulnerable in this respect;
- like restaurants, pubs and clubs store alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco and tend to be concentrated in city centres.
There is also a range of highly localised factors that can be significant in determining a business's vulnerability to crime. The survey was unable to gather data on these influences, although it was able to indicate that they can sometimes be crucial in affecting vulnerability.
Businesses like restaurants/takeaways and pubs/clubs are highly dependent on customer contact. For such businesses, vulnerability often seems to be linked to location, particularly the 'type of customer' the location attracts. The fact that many of these premises serve customers who are under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) is certainly another important factor.
The examination of these localised risk factors lends weight to the significance of considering 'opportunity' in the commission of crime, and in the value to be gained from adopting 'opportunity reduction' techniques.
The costs borne by restaurants/ takeaways and pubs/clubs as a result of crime
The costs of crime borne by businesses can arise in various forms, and be measured in different ways. One of the observations made in the main report of the SBC was that the different forms of crime to which business premises fall victim inflict widely different costs. Across the board, thefts of vehicles (at an average of £5,325 per incident), followed by frauds (at £5,142), incur the highest cost per incident. Thefts by 'outsiders' inflict the lowest.
For restaurants and takeaways:
- acts of vandalism are the most expensive incidents (costing an average of £1,237), followed by employee thefts (at an average of £913).
For pubs and clubs:
- thefts by employees prove to be the most expensive occurrences (costing on average £2,148) followed by thefts of vehicles (£1,167) and acts of vandalism (£1,072).
- The full survey also reported that the average annual cost of 'witnessed' crime borne by the typical business surveyed (that is, both victims and non-victims) was some £2,300.
For restaurants and takeaways:
- This figure is much lower (at only £675). Figure 8 provides a full breakdown.
Figure 8 - Average cost of crime (victims and non-victims): restaurants and takeaways
For pubs and clubs:
- The figure is again relatively low (at £1,011). Figure 9 provides a full breakdown.
Figure 9 - Average cost of crime (victims and non-victims): pubs and clubs
What restaurant/ takeaways and pubs/ clubs currently do to prevent crime and the scope for partnership working
- under a half of the crime incidents experienced by business in these two sub-sectors came to the notice of the police (47% for restaurants/takeaways and 43% for pubs/clubs). Both figures represent lower reporting levels than that indicated by all the businesses surveyed (55%). The police are much more likely to be advised of incidents like break-ins, but only just over a third of all incidents involving violence come to their attention.
- like all Scottish businesses, those in the restaurant/takeaway and pubs/clubs sub sectors invest widely in different types of security devices. The devices most often installed are intruder alarms, security lighting and different forms of special protection to doors and windows. Pubs and clubs tend to rely on these more than restaurants and takeaways.
Figure 10 - Security devices in place: restaurant/takeaway and pubs/clubs sub sectors
- business premises, particularly those in sub-sectors most at risk, are well used to taking a variety of precautions to reduce crime risks. However a good many of these precautions are more commonplace amongst the restaurants/takeaways and pubs/clubs sub-sectors. They tend to limit the cash they hold in tills; 'watch out for specific types of people'; 'ensure staff are not left alone'; 'exclude specific people' and 'take extra measures going to the bank'.
Figure 11 - Precautions taken
- a small proportion change their business practices to reduce risk: about one in ten have changed, or are considering changing, their business hours because of crime .
- about one in ten business premises in these two sub-sectors rate business break-ins as 'serious' in their area (9% for restaurant/takeaways and 10% for pubs/clubs). Despite the high incidence rates experienced, this broadly mirrors the views of all the businesses surveyed, and the implication was drawn that business premises in Scotland do not regard crime as seriously as many of their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.
- up to about a half of business premises in these two sub-sectors (40% for restaurant/takeaways and 46% for pubs/clubs) have experience of working in partnership with other organisations to prevent crime. This is significantly more than for all the businesses surveyed, where only one-third claim to have such experience. Both sub-sectors are more familiar than most with working with local authorities to prevent crime, and over a quarter of pubs and clubs work to this end with businesses 'of the same type'.
- two-thirds (64% of restaurant/takeaways and 69% of pubs and clubs), however, indicated they would be interested in being involved in such schemes in the future. This is similar to the figure for all the businesses surveyed (61%)
The Scottish Survey of Business Crime was primarily based on a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) survey of 2,500 Scottish businesses. As a means of ensuring that these businesses would virtually all operate from business (as opposed to domestic) premises, the sample only included businesses with three or more staff. The sample was drawn from Dun and Bradstreet's business database. Estimates of the number of premises within each business sub-sector are based on the information held by Dun and Bradstreet and it is likely that these under-estimate the true figures.
Further methodological details are available in the full report on the results from the 1999 SBC, Counting the cost: Crime against business in Scotland, which may be purchased (price £10.00 per copy).
If you wish further copies of this Research Findings or have any enquiries about the work of CRU, please contact us at:
Scottish Executive Central Research Unit,
Web site: www.scotland.gov.uk/cru
If you wish a copy of 'Counting the cost: Crime against business in Scotland', the research report which is summarised in this Research Findings, please send a cheque for £5 made payable to The Stationery Office to:
The Stationery Office Bookshop,
71 Lothian Road,
EDINBURGH, EH3 9AZ
Tel 0131 228 4181
Fax 0131 622 7017
This document (and other CRU Research Findings and Reports) and information about the work of CRU may be viewed on the Internet at http:/www.scotland.gov.uk/cru/
The site carries up-to-date information about social and policy research commissioned and published by CRU on behalf of the Scottish Executive. Subjects covered include transport, housing, social inclusion, rural affairs, children and young people, education, social work, community care, local government, civil justice, regeneration, planning and women's issues. The site allows access to information about the Scottish Household Survey.