I am aware of the survey in question and I am very conscious of the considerable costs incurred by the business community as a result of crime. I welcome all well informed input and research on crime related issues. It is not my intention to in any way undervalue or underestimate the experiences of those who were victims of crime and who responded to the survey conducted by the Small Firms Association.
However, it should be borne in mind that the annual crime statistics compiled by the Garda Síochána are much more broadly based and thus provide a more reliable guide to the cost of crime in general. Having said that, even though the SFA's respondents stated the cost of crime had risen sharply, the survey also records that the incidence of crime against small business reduced by 4%. This reflects the decrease recorded in the Garda statistics: crime overall was down by 2% on 2002. In addition, the value of property stolen in burglaries, robberies and thefts recorded in the Garda crime statistics was €96.9 million in 2002. The comparable provisional figure for 2003 was €73.3 million, representing a decrease of 24%.
The Garda Síochána provides a range of crime prevention supports to the small and large business communities alike. They include the services of crime prevention officers who carry out surveys throughout the country and provide advice on how security may be strengthened. They also disseminate information on crime prevention through their booklet, A Guide to Retail Security. The Garda Síochána is also involved in supporting a number of business watch schemes throughout the country.