TO PREVENT OR NOT TO PREVENT CRIMES? A qualitative interview study about the insurance industry’s role as a crime preventive actor towards the construction sector.
Aims and objectives: The aim of the article is to examine if the insurance industry, as a third-party policing actor, generates crime prevention incentives towards the companies within the construction sector, through their role as policyholders in Sweden. Included is also to investigate if the relationship between the insurer-insured generates any unanticipated consequences for other actors in the society. To achieve this, the objectives are: (1) to analyze how the insurance companies, as super controllers, use the crime mechanisms effort, risk, rewards and excuses, to steer the crime preventive conduct of their policyholders, (2) to assess if the insurance companies act as capable super controllers to prevent crimes by evaluating their situational ability to detect crimes, their willingness to supervise, and their willingness to intervene when detecting crimes and (3) to evaluate whether the purposive social actions of the insurers generate any unanticipated consequences for the construction companies or other societal actors. Method and data: The choice of method to retrieve data is through semi-structured research interviews, while the method used to interpret the transcripts (data) is qualitative text analyses. The transcripts are analyzed by the use of a bricolage method. An assembled theoretical framework consisting of Sampson, Eck and Dunham’s (2010) extended routine activity theory, including the concept of super controllers, Reynald’s (2010) factors for what constitute capable guardians and Merton’s (1936) concepts of purposive social actions and unanticipated consequences, have been used to analyze the data. Results: The insurance companies have a limited capability, as super controllers and third-party policing actors, to regulate the crime preventive conduct of their policyholders. The main reason as to why is because they operate on the private market and are steered by profit-maximizing goals. Acquisitive thefts are defined by the insurers as frequency damages that the insurance primarily is not intended to provide financial coverage for. The thefts are instead described as an inherent business risk of the construction industry. To reduce the possibilities to financial compensation, the deductibles are therefore stipulated at levels that the direct costs for the acquisitive thefts often fall below. This formally organized and purposive decision by the insurers results in that the construction companies in practice act as they are uninsured in relation to the crime type. This removes an important financial incentive to report the thefts to the police, something that by extension leads to the unanticipated consequence that the dark figure of crime within the construction industry is upheld.
crime prevention mechanisms