Internal Fraud and Theft Figures Make Insurance a Key Business Consideration

22 /Oct

Around 40% of the £190m cost of fraud to UK businesses annually is down to theft by staff, according to a leading UK bank. [1] Around two-thirds is committed by workers who have worked in the service of their employer for at least five years.

‘Insider deception’, as internal fraud can be known, can take various forms, from pilfering from stock, to payroll fraud and from expenses fiddling, to the selling on of data to competitors.  It is said to typically stem from three main causes – opportunity (being left in a room with access to funds, for instance), a grievance with the company, and a pressure or incentive to steal.

In September 2020, one such incentive was seen in the case of a pub manager at a racecourse, who was convicted for 18 months for having stolen £46,379 to fund a gambling addiction. [2]  Other instances might be to pay debts, feed the family or fund a large expense.

Having to deal with internal crime can be awkward and difficult. If an employee is stealing from work colleagues, it can cause great unrest in the workplace, as can frustrations when some employees are aware of another worker’s breaking of the rules, by doing something such as offering ‘mates rates’ to friends and family buying from the business, with no authority to do so.  In a hospitality environment, this could take the form of having a drink ‘on the house.’

Handling allegations or suspicions of theft also requires tact and a fair approach towards the situation.  Accusations cannot be pitched without evidence and it may take some careful planning to positively determine what is happening.

Although CCTV cameras can be installed in UK workplaces if there is a good reason to have them, under the terms of the Data Protection Act, staff have to be made aware of cameras’ presence and this could make such installation counterproductive. [3] You cannot retrospectively use the cameras for internal theft detection, if staff were not previously advised that this was a reason for their installation.

Jumping to conclusions can be detrimental, as we have seen in the recent Post Office case, where many postmasters were falsely accused of theft, fraud and false accounting, ordered to pay money back and even imprisoned, when the issue was not theft at all, but errors in the IT system. [4]

Nevertheless, where theft and fraud is happening, the costs to the business can be significant, which is why having insurance to cover the impacts of such crime can be advantageous.  Given the difficulties in managing internal theft scenarios, with the potential of getting things wrong and unjustifiably disciplining an employee or dismissing them for gross misconduct, it also pays to have legal expenses cover and a means to protect the business from the significant costs of a tribunal or damages claim brought by a wrongly accused or disciplined individual.

With enhanced financial and workplace pressures caused by coronavirus, monitoring for signs of internal crime could be well-advised. Although cases in England and Wales have dropped significantly since 2003/4, there were still 9835 offences recorded in 2018/19 and many more will have not been on-record. [5]

If you require help in getting crime insurance and legal expenses protection in place, please get in touch.









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