Policy & Public Affairs


Crime in the Construction Industry

Date: 20/07/09

Laura Warne

Former Innovation & Research Manager


The Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) research into crime in the construction industry has shown that an overwhelming majority have experienced theft, vandalism and health and safety neglect.

92% of respondents had experienced theft in their business, 91% vandalism and 90% health and safety neglect. These crimes contributed to respondents suffering severe financial losses in their business; 38% stated it cost their business at least £10,000 a year and 9% reported losses of over £100,000 a year.

The research examined the scale and impact of crime on the construction industry and highlights the key areas of concern for senior level construction workers.

31% of respondents stated there has been an increase in crime in the industry in the last twelve months and only 8% felt it had decreased. The majority of respondents linked this increase to the recession and stated that more people are turning to illegitimate ways to make money to survive the downturn.

Michael Brown, CIOB Deputy Chief Executive said:”The results suggest a real need for site and project managers to be trained on how to prevent crime on construction sites and what measures should be taken if it does occur.

“The research highlights that a lot of crime doesn’t get reported, we would advocate higher levels of reporting, and an increase in collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the industry.”

The survey showed that the most effective crime deterrents are secure storage, enhanced lighting linked to CCTV and registering plant and equipment.

These were not the only crimes that were explored in the survey; it was also evident that the industry is susceptible to attack from organised crime. Over one fifth of respondents had experienced racketeering and money laundering in their business or on a project with which they were involved and 11% had experienced kidnapping.

“Thankfully, these most serious occurrences are rare but that does not mean that their importance should be underplayed. The impact of crime varies considerably. Some respondents indicated that they had been very lucky in encountering hardly any crime throughout their construction careers,” added Michael Brown.

Only 1% stated they thought these more serious crimes were common and the majority of those who had experienced these crimes stated they were very rare.

The sample consisted of 1100 construction industry professionals, the majority (65%) of whom described themselves as management.