Business crime continues to have an enormous impact on UK businesses.  In their 2022 Crime Survey for England and Wales, the government recorded an estimated 3.5 million incidents of fraud and 2.2 million incidents of theft against businesses in the UK in 2020 alone so how can businesses protect themselves against business crime?

It’s also important to remember that when we talk about the impact of business crime on UK businesses, they are not limited to just financial losses.  Reputational damage, legal consequences including fines, legal fees, and lawsuits plus the possible physical and emotional impact on employees must all be taken into consideration.

Crime against businesses is also having a wider impact on the UK economy at a time the economy can ill afford any more blows.  Lost tax revenue, reduced consumer confidence and the need for increased investment in law enforcement and security are all taking their toll on our already beleaguered economy.

What is business crime?

Business crime (also known as white-collar crime) refers to the range of illegal activities committed against businesses.  

Unlike more traditional types of crime, business crime typically involves financially motivated deception, fraud, or abuse of power.  The most common types of business crime are

  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Money laundering
  • Bribery
  • Intellectual Property (IP) theft
  • Insider trading
  • Cybercrime

As we further adopt a hybrid working environment built on our increased use of technology, cybercrimes like hacking, data breach/theft, ransomware attacks and phishing scams have become a particular and significant concern for businesses of all sizes and types.

How can you protect your business against white collar crime?

There are several proactive steps you should take to protect your business against business crime if you haven’t already:

– Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify any potential vulnerabilities and areas of weakness both inside and outside your business and work with an expert to find the best solutions for what you find.

– Introduce more robust financial controls and more regular cash flow reviews to detect potentially fraudulent activities early.

– Create and implement clear and robust security policies and procedures for your business including guidelines as to how you will respond in the event of a crime.

– Educate your employees about potential security risks, how to tackle them and how to minimise the likelihood they’ll occur and, again, what they should do if they see anything suspicious.

– Limit physical and digital access to sensitive data, information and systems based on employees’ roles and requirements and improve the security measures imposed on those with access. 

– Increase your data protection protocols by making greater use of encryption, backing up data more regularly and using secure storage systems.

– Increase your cybersecurity with stronger firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion and detection systems, and update software and passwords more regularly.

– Take more care with your due diligence on new suppliers, especially if they are going to be onsite and/or have access to sensitive information.

– Continuously monitor and evaluate your security measures in case you need to adapt to newer technologies as threat levels in certain areas rise and drop.

Unfortunately, no one security measure will guarantee complete protection against business crime but implementing a comprehensive security strategy across these areas will help you significantly reduce the risk of your business becoming a victim of business crime.

Our Civil Law team includes barristers who specialise in white collar crime and, in particular, fraud.  If you are involved in a case involving fraud or business crime, please contact us today.

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