The Business of Crime and Punishment
T his is an issue that we all have encountered either directly or indirectly at some point in our lives either being a victim or knowing a victim of crime, witnessing or even being a perpetrator of crime, be it a petty crime or even a serious crime.  There isn't a pill or a cloak that can protect or hide you from the potential of becoming a victim of crime.

Crime invariably is a symptom of an underlying issue, the first of which is poverty, the second is mental illness, the third is greed, the fourth is lack of education which underpins ignorance. The fourth tends to be a consequence of the first whereas greed is inherent in us all to some degree or another and mental illness can affect one in three of us at some point in our lives.

By far the most common cause of crime is poverty; we are all driven by instinct to feed, cloth, house and warm ourselves.  We are taught how to by our parents, our peers, our teachers, our environment, our socio-economic status, our education.

Crime in itself is a business because criminality is insurable against and therefore contributes to the economy in more ways than one. The direct victims of crime or the unintentional losses in the form of criminal damage to property to access the target of the criminals either through breaking and entering or damage incurred from the theft of a motor vehicle.

The business of crime prevention be they locks padlocks, safes, alarms markers, smart ink, surveillance systems, monitoring and personal protection be it in the form of security personnel or arms and self defence teaching/training.

The strangest thing is that crime contributes to the economic activity on multiple levels, not just the cost of replacement of goods damaged or stolen. We can however agree that crime is an antisocial behaviour and it’s the poor and have-nots that commit and more likely to be the victims of crime respectively. 

Criminals tend to be entrepreneurial opportunists that opt to profit from doing something that they deem to be acceptable. The entrepreneurial criminal justifies their actions with this rationale that they do not harm people directly if they are shoplifting or simply trying to survive. Minor criminality is more often than not repeated by serial criminals with some form of substance addiction.

So, does crime exist in affluent societies? Yes, it does, crime exists in all societies, yet there is a higher proportion of crime in societies where there is a greater divide between the rich and the poor. Where social injustice occurs, then it’s likely that the crime rate is higher and the population lacks access to quality housing, social services, education & training.

So, if you were to improve access to housing, social services, healthcare and education you will see a reduction in crime and overall productivity, and is likely to improve because those who'd previously would have turned to crime would find employment or start a business thus contribute to the economy rather than commit crime?  If adequate mental healthcare is available, wouldn't the unwell be identified sooner and treated before they go on to commit crime?

Greed and violent criminal activity is a form of crime that affects all areas of society regardless of wealth or education. The issue really why men are more likely to be victims of  violent crime? But women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence and between 85-90% of murderers are men? This has regional differences, on a national and international level (for this article we allude to UK statistics).

In a crime free society would we require a police force? So, where would the police be employed if we lived in a crime free society? So is a certain level of crime and criminality accepted as such and should just be managed as a risk in society and measured so we can factor in the cost of crime as the cost of living or cost of doing business? The cynical would say yes, but the victims of crime might think differently.

We by no means think that crime pays but someone gets paid because of crime. Policing and security will always be a necessity in a civilised society, insurance will always be required to cover losses be they intentional or unintentional from criminality, what really should be considered is if poverty alleviation is attended to in the provision of infrastructure, services, education and opportunities, a happier, more prosperous society is beneficial for the overall cohesiveness of society; which in turn would increase productivity and activities that would require more products and services so overall economic activity would  be increased.

Does this mean that investment not cuts is a prudent methodology to increase productivity and economic activity? We pose the question we don’t know the answers, all have an opinion, please comment and share on social, by email; if you would like to post a video or write an article in response or related we welcome contribution to the conversation.

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