CrimBrief The Official Blog of the AIC
Counting the costs of crime - 2011
The AIC has produced an update estimate on the costs of crime in Australia for 2011, the fifth in a series over a 24 year period.
Here are the highlights:
And here’s the 2011 cost to the taxpayer for police, courts and justice agencies:
The report can be found here: http://aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/rpp/121-140/rpp129.html
Crime Prevention Award to AIC Researcher
The AIC’s research manager of the Crime Prevention and Evaluation program, Anthony Morgan, was this year’s recipient of Adam Sutton Crime Prevention Award for a comprehensive guide on Crime Prevention Interventions for Local Government.
The award was presented at the recent Australia and New Zealand Society of Criminology conference at Sydney University. Mr Morgan received the recognition for having written the best publication or report in the area of crime prevention in the past year.
This report presents a large-scale systematic review findings of more than 100 studies, undertaken in partnership with the NSW Crime Prevention Division and provides practical crime prevention guidance to local councils on effective responses to six priority crime problems in NSW, including alcohol-related violence, residential burglary, malicious damage and shoplifting.
The innovative methodology used to review studies combined elements of experimental and theory-based research designs and approaches to evaluation. This method placed greater emphasis on factors such as local context, the mechanisms underpinning an intervention and the requirements for successful implementation, alongside evidence of effectiveness.
In selecting a winning publication for the Adam Sutton award, the judges look for the extent to which nominated books and reports demonstrate pragmatic and workable solutions to Australasian crime problems, that reflect the values of a tolerant and inclusive society, and which are founded in theory and research on crime prevention.
Anthony Morgan’s main research interests over the years have been community-based crime prevention and program evaluation – he was also the lead author of the National Crime Prevention Framework, has developed performance frameworks for crime prevention and has conducted research into the use of CCTV and police and local government crime prevention.
The full title of the winning report is: Effective crime prevention interventions for implementation by local government. Research and Public Policy Series no. 120. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. Morgan A, Boxall H, Lindeman K & Anderson J 2012
Anthony Morgan and Adrian Cherney, University of Queensland.
Armed robbery in small businesses
Despite stereotypical Hollywood portrayals, armed robbery is not a crime unique to banks, casinos or jewellery stores. In fact, less than two percent of robberies each year have occurred in these high-profit locations. Indeed the most common armed robbery locations are the street or footpath or in small business retail locations.
‘Small businesses’ include service stations, pharmacies, newsagents, takeaway, liquor and convenience stores which hold cash on the premises. As well as being a common target for robbery generally, these businesses have also been found to be particularly vulnerable to repeat victimisation. In 2009-10, 28 percent of repeat organisational victims of armed robbery were service stations followed by unspecified retail (23%) and pharmacies, takeaway and convenience stores (each 8%).
Recent AIC research examined how armed robbery differs depending on the location. The research drew on 627 armed robbery related police narratives. This information is different from quantitative police data as it provides a summary of the crime including the sequence of events. This means researchers gain a greater insight into the nature of armed robbery as it occurs in locations like small businesses.
Unsurprisingly, an analysis of the narratives showed outlets were being robbed between the hours of 6am and midnight, which reflects the variety in operating hours between different types of small businesses. For example, newsagents are often open early in order to distribute newspapers while grocery stores may remain open later in order to cater to individuals who shop after work. Regardless of when a store was open, robberies tended to occur when there were very few people in the store or around closing time. Potentially, the decision to rob at the close of business may correspond with the time of day when cash was most accessible; for example, tills being counted or money being transported to the bank.
While many offenders committed armed robbery when there was no one around, other indicators highlight the semi-opportunistic nature this offence in small businesses. For instance, very few offenders made serious attempts to disguise themselves. While hoods and caps were common, the majority of offenders did not use any type of disguise instead choosing to leave their faces uncovered. Further, the use of gloves (an important tool to avoid identification through fingerprinting) was rare. This lack of disguise and strategy to avoid identification indicates a low degree of planning compared to strategies employed in other locations.
CCTV picture of an armed robbery at an ACT premises
Finally, the narratives show robberies against small businesses tended not to involve violence. This was likely due to a high rate of victim cooperation, which meant offenders rarely had to escalate to physical violence to get what they wanted.
However, this does not mean that robberies against small businesses were not confronting for employees. Robberies in retail settings were characterised by high levels of aggression in the form of threats. In particular, threats to kill, maim or otherwise hurt the employee. The experience of threats can be extremely traumatic for an employee, especially if it occurs in a highly charged situation like a robbery where they already fear for their lives and weapons are being brandished. Further, in certain small businesses such as takeaway, grocery stores or fast food restaurants, the employee being threatened may be a teenager in their first job. An experience of armed robbery can severely traumatise them; potentially affecting their ability to return to work for years to come.
In short, small businesses present an interesting case study in armed robbery. Preventing armed robbery in these businesses is not simply about increasing security although many do. For example, service stations now have screens between the customer and register. However, this type of measure may be impractical with other types of retail outlet. That the nature of the small business can vary so drastically means a one-size-fits all approach to prevention does not work.
Instead, many small businesses instead focus on minimising risk through other types of situational crime prevention measures tailored to their specific location. For example, uncluttered front windows maintains adequate natural surveillance from the street while strict cash handling procedures limit the amount of money on the premises at any one time. More research is needed, however, to in order to determine the best practice approach in preventing armed robbery in small businesses.
By A/g Research Analyst Georgina Fuller