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Crime in the Construction Industry: A Site Level Problem? – Part 1

Simon MeyerThe Chartered Institute of Building report on “Crime in the Construction Industry” proved interesting reading last week and highlighted a real issue in both the level and cost of crime, relating not only to the direct costs of the crime themselves but also the resulting financial penalties, such as project delays, investigations and increased financial premiums in the construction industry. It also highlights the challenge that exists with the large contractors around the ability to enforce central policy on their sites in a consistent and standardised manner, especially around health and safety management and trusted worker security.

This comprehensive report sampled 700 construction industry professionals, the majority of which described themselves in management (65%) and more than third of individuals worked for organisations employing more than 500 people. It principally focused on the impact of crime in the three most common areas; theft, vandalism and health and safety neglect although does cover a broader range of crimes and highlighted a high instance of all three on sites (90%+), with only 8.4% of respondents stating that the amount of crime has gone down in the last 12 months. It should be noted that the occurrence and severity of crime did vary considerably between respondents and the majority have suffered only a limited amount of crime such as petty theft and vandalism.

That said, with a problem that does not seem to be going away quickly, this raises the question about how organisations can effectively deal with this at both a site and head office level and indeed have a real understanding regarding the cost and impact it is having on efficient and profitable operations. While it is relatively simple to put a cost on stolen tools and property, the impact of these crimes on project delays, risk management and overall margin are more difficult to calculate and far more significant, especially with larger organisations and projects. In terms of policy, for example, most organisations will be confident that they have a comprehensive H&S policy in place, but translating this at site level appears to be inconsistent given the high incident rates and an area of potential risk at worker, site and director level.

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Construction specific products, such as MSite, provide a single one-stop-shop to ensure the necessary standards and policy at head office can be enforced on a day-by-day basis. As we see more contractors use these products, the effective reduction of crime can be better managed and it can become less of a distraction and cost to sites.

A copy of the full report can be found at the CIOB site.

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