Crime has a range of effects on victims and their families. Those affected may be hurt emotionally, physically and/or financially. The effects can be worse if the crime involves violence.
Communities which experience higher levels of crime are also adversely affected. Apart from people being frightened inside or outside their own home, property prices are affected and homeowners can find it more difficult to sell their property. Crime has an impact on home insurance premiums. New businesses may avoid the area and existing businesses may close down due to crime such as repeated theft, vandalism or having too few customers as a result.
Crimes such as shoplifting and fraud cost businesses in the UK billions of pounds each year. In 2015, the cost of business crime in Scotland was over £5 billion.
Increasingly thieves are moving away from more traditional crimes such as robberies and are instead looking to use the internet to commit crime. Cybercrime mainly involves stealing highly confidential information. Access to this type of information can result in thieves stealing vast amounts of money.
Certain UK companies such as banks, insurance companies and energy suppliers have recently been the victims of internet crime. Altogether, at least a third of all crime relating to business is connected to the internet.
To prevent cybercrime, the Scottish and UK governments have set up special internet crime units. Working alongside businesses, the Scottish Business Crime Centre aims to use the latest ICT security technology to catch internet thieves.
The cost of policing in Scotland in 2015 was £1.75 billion. Both the Scottish and UK governments spend billions of pounds dealing with the consequences of crime. To do this, government must either increase taxes or spend more from the tax revenues (money) they already collect. Therefore, if crime levels rise, there will be less money for education and healthcare.
Crime also costs through higher prices in shops for good and services. If businesses are losing money to crime they pass this cost on to shoppers by increasing prices.
In August 2011, London and other parts of England experienced some of the worst street riots in more than 50 years. Tens of millions of pounds of damage was done to property, with several people injured. The deaths of two people have been linked to the riots in the city.
The Independent Riots, Communities and Victims Panel conducted an enquiry after the riots. It concluded that the factors responsible for what happened in London and elsewhere in 2011 were complicated.
However, the report of the panel did not find most of those arrested were gang members. The majority of rioters were under 24 years old, with poor academic records and at the bottom of society. ‘Poor parenting’ and the inability to change their lives for the better were noted as contributing factors. Some crimes committed were carried out by opportunists - people taking advantage of the disorder.
The report went on to make a series of recommendations including encouraging the government to develop strategies incorporating the principles of the Troubled Families Programme to help ‘forgotten families’ turn their lives around.