White collar crime has been an issue of concern in the recent part. According to Benson and Simpson (2009, p. 67), white collar crime refers to “a financially motivated nonviolent crime committed for illegal financial gains”. According to these scholars, white collar crime has been on the rise in the United Kingdom. This has raised concern from various quarters and from members of the society. The war against any form of crime is not always an easy battle.
It requires strong legal structures that can help minimize or eliminate it from the society. As Geis (2009, p. 37) observes, the United Kingdom is one of the countries that have put spirited fight against white collar crime. According to this scholar, the country is yet to eliminate cases o white collar crime in various sectors of the economy.
White collar crime seems to be on the rise in this country. Champion (2011, p. 34) says that white collar crime is the worst form of crime that a society may face. The first approach that makes this crime dangerous is the fact that it is nonviolent. Unlike violent crimes that may result in death of the victims hence raises the public attention, this is a ‘silent’ crime that raises no attention because the victim is never subjected to any physical harm. Another characteristic that makes this form of crime worse is that it is always geared towards personal gains at the expense of the public. Marks (2012, p. 34) says that white collar jobs are worse than murder cases.
This is because of the impact it creates to the society. For instance, when an officer diverts fund that were supposed to finance a facility in a hospital to personal accounts, the person is silently killing the patients who were supposed to use the facility. Similarly, when an officer embezzles money meant for road development, the officer will be contributing to possible road accidents that may occur due to poor status of the roads (Surette, 2011, p. 47). The penalty for those committing this crime should, therefore, be as stiff as those who commit murder, or better still, it should be made stiffer. This will make the society consider this a serious crime. This research focuses on finding the truth as to whether enough is being done to counter white collar crimes within the United Kingdom.
Research Aims and Objectives
Zagaris (2010, p. 78) defines research aims are the specific goals that a given researcher intends to achieve by conducting a research. Every research has a specific goal that the researcher intends to achieve for the research to be considered a success. In this research, the aim of the researcher was to determine if enough was being done to counter white collar crime within the United Kingdom. The researcher’s intention was to determine whether the relevant authorities are doing enough to counter white collar criminal within this society. The following are the objectives of this research.
- To determine the level of prevalence of white collar crime within the United Kingdom.
- To determine what the relevant authorities are doing to help curb white collar crime within the United Kingdom.
Research Question and Hypothesis
In every research, there is always a research questions that helps guide the researcher to stay in focus of the issues relevant to the research. According to Gottschalk (2010, p. 45), conducting a research can entail meeting various interesting issues, most of which may not be related to the topic at hand. A researcher may come across factors that may prove of interest because of personal interests, but related to the research topic. When a researcher engages into these topics, the research may lose its direction. The researcher will end up colleting a lot of information from the field, only to realize that the information collected is irrelevant. This is very common with researchers who are new in this field (Isenring 2008, p. 380). Determined to avoid such cases, the researcher developed research question meant to guide this research. The following is the research question developed for this research.
- Is enough being done by those responsible to counter the effect of white collar crimes in the society?
This piece of research is based on the above research question. The research seeks to answer this question using relevant literatures. According to Geis (2011, p. 79), developing a research hypothesis always helps in having a rough idea of what the result in a research would be. It is always based on the knowledge of the researcher on that particular topic. The following is the research question for this research.
- H1. Enough has not been done by those responsible to counter the effect of white collar crimes in the society.
The researcher intends to confirm this fact by analyzing data from the secondary sources. The researcher seeks to identify some of the facts that would help confirm the argument that enough has not been done to fight white collar crime in the society.
Importance of the Research
According to Marks (2012, p. 34), a piece of research can only be relevant if it is of some value to the society. This scholar says that conducting a research involves heavy use of financial resources and time. These are the most important resources that a person can ever spend. For this reason, their expenditure should be proven to be worthwhile. This research is important because it is trying to find a solution to the issue of white collar crime in the society. The society has been suffering from white collar crime, and it has reached a point where people are becoming used to it. A section of the society is almost developing a feeling that white collar crime is a ‘cancer’ that the society must learn to live with (Furse 2012, p. 89).
This scholar says that some members of the society have despaired in the fight against white collar crime. In this research, the researcher sets forth to dispel this belief. The researcher aims at telling the society that white collar crime is just like any other crime that can be brought to an end if an effort is made to deal with it. The research tries to sensitize the society and make them believe that this vice can be fought and eliminated or reduced to the minimal possible levels. The research intends to challenge the government and the society at large, on their role in fighting crime within the society. This way, the researcher hopes to make a positive impact in the war against white collar crime.
This section focuses on various aspects of research development. It includes methods of data collection, its analysis and presentation procedures. Every research project applies a certain research method to achieve its objectives depending on its goals. The methods used to conduct research in this project compared closely with the methods proposed in the project proposal for this dissertation (Geis 2011, p. 117).
This was so because the project proposal had been proven to be workable. The researcher collected the primary data from the respondents who were randomly selected to participate in this research. In this study, respondents were briefed in advance. This was necessary to ensure that respondents were prepared psychologically for the task ahead. This would also help in ensuring that response was given in time to allow timely analysis. The study population was also amicably informed in order to get prepared for the study. Briefing was important because it could enhance reliability of the study.
It is also ethical to inform respondents before the actual data collection begins (Zagaris 2010, p. 115). The findings were also made public to the researched as one way of ensuring morality in the study. This section also focuses on the literature review as one of the methods used in collection of secondary sources of information. It gives the reason why literature review was used as a method to collect data. The section gives an overview of the purpose of collecting and analyzing data and the basic questions used to gather the desired responses.
The section also reflects back the research question. This is important because it is at this stage that the researcher goes into the field to gather information. It is therefore necessary that the research questions are brought to focus because they would be the guiding light in the process of gathering data (Minkes 2008, p. 93). The researcher would be trying to respond to the research question. In order to eliminate criticism, this section clearly states the scope of the study. There are limits beyond which this research may not hold because of the method used in data collection and analysis. It is, therefore, important that limitations are clearly stated to make it clear to readers of this material how far this research reveals what it purports to.
Since the main method of data collection was primary source, the questionnaire was the main instrument used to collect data. This section brings out the questionnaire format, reasons for choosing this format, its advantages and disadvantages. In a research process, sampling is very important because certain population can be too big to facilitate a study of the whole population (Furse 2012, p. 63).
Purpose of collecting and analyzing data
From the literature review, the researcher gathered considerable amount of information about this field. Many of the reports that exist in this field are very resourceful as individuals of high integrity did them. The manner in which they were done also passes as good enough to be used in various aspects of crime management. However, this is a different research. It must be in a position to develop its own arguments based on data collected from primary sources. This does not rule out the importance of secondary sources of data.
To ensure originality in any research, there is need to use primary data. The purpose of collecting data was to help facilitate analysis that would lead to giving answers that are desired in this research (Browne 2011, p. 83). The objective of this research was to respond to some of the questions that other scholars had not responded to through the existing literature. To be in a position to respond to these questions, there would be need to collect data. After successful collection of data, analysis would be very important. When taken from the field, data is considered raw and therefore cannot be of much help to the target audience. For this reason, it is important to analyze data to produce the desired result that would be useful to various individuals.
Scope of Data Collection
Primary data for this research was collected from sample of respondents that were chosen randomly by the researcher. This data was collected with the help of a questionnaire. The scope of data collection was limited to the topic of white collar crime in the United Kingdom. This was because of the time that was available for the research. Because most of the respondents were nationals of the United Kingdom, they clearly understood the social structure of the British society and therefore, were in a position to respond appropriately to questions regarding the crime rates in the society of United Kingdom. They also understood how this affected the performance of various sectors of the economy. The level of accuracy needed in this research would be achieved within this scope. Secondary data was gathered from existing literature about the rate of white collar crime, its effects, and how the society is dealing with it.
According to Huff, Desilets and Kane (2011, p. 37), the field of crime and criminology had attracted attention of many scholars. The society is made up in such a way that one action will always result in a series of other actions in response to it. According to Naso (2012, p. 244), white collar crime may have serious negative consequences to the society by breeding other forms of crime. White collar crime deprives the society of job opportunities as wealth is accumulated by a few members of the society while the majority is left wallowing in poverty.
This creates a skewed distribution of wealth that cannot help sustain growth of the economy. The poor are left to find their own way as the rich increase their wealth. As a result of this, other forms of crime will automatically find their way into the society, especially in the urban centers.
According to Scheb (2009, p. 56), the society today is full of criminal activities. When one watches news over the radio or television, or reading newspapers, one of the most common reports is a case where one or a group has committed crime. Social scientists have come out to try and find out some of the possible causes of crime in the society. People hate crime. A criminal would be furious when he or she realizes that one has acted criminally against him or her. The biggest question that comes out, therefore, is, if people hate crime that much, why have criminal activities happening almost on a daily basis. Social scientists have come out with theories trying to explain the possible genesis of crime in the society.
According to Robb (2002, p. 119), crime is more common in urban setting than it is in rural set-ups. It would be interesting to know why this is so. The researchers have been trying to explain why crime would be more common in urban setting than in rural-like regions. The motivation of an individual to commit crime depends on various factors. It is interesting to know why the motivational factors to committing crime are more common in town settings than it is in rural areas. Ruub (2001, p. 95) laments that life in some urban centers has become unbearable due to increased cases of crime. According to this scholar, the reason behind this increased crime is unemployment among the youth that leads to boredom. This scholar says that boredom is one of the major motivators of crime.
According to Savelsberg (1994, p. 129) the society can only be safe when motivators to crime are eliminated or reduced to minimum level. It may not be possible to eliminate all possible cases of crime. However, it is possible to have a society where crime is reduced to a bare minimum. For this to be possible, causes of crime must be identified so that they may be addressed. If crime is an alternative to play, how can the society address the issue to ensure that this is solved?
These are some of the questions that various stakeholders are grappling with. The rate of committing crime is so high in urban areas to an extent that in some countries, the government has come up with mechanisms to help in regulating such cases through community policing. Cases have been reported where people living together kill one other, steal from each other, engage in illegal businesses, and commit other crimes.
In many countries, politicians have been reported to incite people to rise against one another to an extent of killing their opponents. Street gangs, pick pocketing and the practice of illegal activities are very common in urban centers. Developing countries face several crimes, which are committed in urban centers. The rise of this vice in the urban setting is serious to an extent that in some countries, people live like prisoners in their own country, but in the real sense, they are free citizens (Friedrichs 2010, p. 83). Day light robbery cases are common in urban settings. Rape cases are on the increase in the urban centers. Generally, people in the urban settings encounter serious challenges due to the rise in the rates of crime.
Above are some of the consequences of white collar crimes that a society may experience if it is not addressed. According Sutherland (1992, p. 67), self control theory as a way of fighting white collar crime in the society. According to this theory, one should exercise self-control, and avoid engaging in activities that can be considered criminal in nature. It is an approach where one controls crime by avoiding cases of engaging in crime within the society.
This theory is in line with Bandura’s social learning theory (Pontell & Geis 2007, p. 85). This theory holds that human behavior is learnt and imitated from actions of others. As such, when one makes a conviction to lead an upright life, then he or she should strive to imitate people who have made positive contributions to the society. This way, white collar crime and all its consequences shall be eliminated.
After a careful analysis of the data collected from both the primary and secondary sources, the researcher was able to compile a report regarding what the efforts made by the government and the society in combating crime in the society. This report is organized into three sections. The first section looks at the motivating factors that make people engage in the white collar crime. The second section is on the consequences of the white collar crime, and the last section is on what is being done to curb this crime, and whether it is enough to help eliminate this vice from the society.
Causes of White Collar Crime
White collar crime has been on the rise within the United Kingdom. As technology changes within this society, so does criminal cases that involves the abuse of office, fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, and cyber crime among others. There has been a need to understand the motives of white collar crime beyond personal benefits. According to Geis, 2011, p. 84), the main reason why people engage in white collar crime is because of the need to satisfy them personal greed. Those who were interviewed in this research noted that people always fight to get to positions of power simply because of the power they have over public resources. Some of the respondents were frank enough to state that the ‘side benefits’ they get from their positions of authority were better rewarding than the salary they earned.
This meant that they would rather go without their monthly salaries but get the ‘side benefits’. This is a culture that has developed for years, and is now firmly entrenched into public offices in this country. The higher one rises in the ladder of authority, the greater the opportunity he or she is allowed to compromise the authority. Zagaris (2010, p. 59) says that this culture is so entrenched in some public offices that it influences even those who were previously against this vice.
They get into the system, adapt to it, and then act in line with the culture that has been in existence for a very long time. Some of the white collar crimes are committed to show the level of prowess of an individual. An individual may commit a cyber crime as a way of passing a message that he has the capacity beyond the engineers of a particular company. Geis (2011, p. 74) says that whatsoever view point one takes in analyzing this case, white collar crime is always based on self interests.
Consequences of White Collar Crime in the Society
Geis (2011, p. 35) says that white collar crime is the worst form of crime one can ever commit in a society. The consequences of this crime are massive and affect a wider population in the society. The victimless crimes have the entire society as the victim. For instance, when an officer embezzles funds meant for construction of a school, the society will suffer the consequences. As Geis (2011, p. 119) observes, white collar crime has varying consequences based on their nature.
There is some white collar crime that targets individuals. Such crimes as forgery, blackmailing and cellular crimes are always targeted at individuals. Such crimes will affect the victims to the given extent in which they are robbed. Such effects will spill into the society when the rate of such criminal cases is rampant, or the extent to which one is affected is massive.
There are those crimes that some scholars have described as victimless crimes. These are crimes that target to defraud the public. Such criminal cases as embezzlement of funds, corruption, nepotism, always target the general public. These involve cases where one sacrifices a benefit that was intended for the public in order to get personal benefits. Such crime is always the leading causes of poor economic growth in the country. They also contribute to increasing the gap between the poor and the rich in the society. According to Gottschalk (2010, p. 47), white collar crimes helps the rich to get richer and the poor to be poorer.
This does not help in stimulating economic development of the nation. This is because when the wealth of a country is held by the little expenditure is always reduce. The few have too much to be spent in their lifetime while the majority can barely afford basic commodities in the society. White collar crime increases the rate of other firms of crime, especially robbery, burglary and theft. This is because it breeds poverty and lack of employment opportunities. With young energetic citizens of this country lacking job and the basic needs in life, they can easily be swayed to act criminally in order to make ends meet.
This vice also encourages disunity and lack of harmony in the society. When these criminals increase the gap between the rich and the poor, a social gap is created which automatically leads social segregation in the society. This will act contrary to the efforts made by various stakeholders to bring unity in the society. It also contributes to lack of harmony indirectly by ensuring that a given section of the society remains in object poverty, while the other section enjoys prosperity of wealth. Those left in poverty engages in crime such as robbery with violence, rape cases or other cases that jeopardizes security because they are frustrated with life.
Curbing White Collar Crimes within the Society
There is a rising concern as to whether those in authority are doing enough to fight white collar crime within the society. Among those interviewed during the data collection process noted that the government is yet to win the battle against cyber crime. However, before trailing the gun at the government, the biggest question that has to be responded to is who the responsible authorities are. Of course the first responsible authority is the government.
The citizens pay their taxes to the government and trust it with the responsibility to take care of the nation. However, one fact is always forgotten in the fight against this crime. In most of the cases, those who are engaged in the crime are the public. It is the public that gives out bribe to officers in authority for services that they should be given for free. Because they have made the officers believe that giving these services is a favor to the public, the officers feel justified taking the bribes. In some cases, citizens of this country prefer going the shortcut way in processing various documents or gaining access to various societies. To get these quick services, they always prefer paying a ‘price’ to the officers who are in authority.
The public has the authority to fight white collar crime. The first authority they have is to refuse giving or taking of the bribes. If there is a procedure to be followed, these officers should follow the well laid procedure in order to access what they need. The Bribery Act was amended to spell stiffer penalties to members who are involved in criminal activities within the United Kingdom. However, agents of the government are not always in every corner to ensure that this law is upheld. It is upon the public to help government agents trace cases of white collar crimes so that they can be prosecuted in time.
The public has failed in this duty. It is clear that the public is doing very little in fighting white collar crime. They do a lot of complaining about the existence of this crime. However, they are the agents that helps perpetuate the crime. While they complain about extortion by some government agencies, they are willing to pay bribes in order to gain favors from various officers. This has been a major impediment to the fight against white collar crime.
Government agencies have also failed to manage white collar crime. Money laundering is one of the white collar crimes that the government has not been able to manage. Gottschalk (2010, p. 82) says that “Act under the money laundering laws failure to report a suspicion of money laundering results in an offence under Section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.” However, this scholar says that this law lies beautifully in paper, but practicing it has remained a challenge. Money laundering is so common in this country. Although many believe that it happens under tight cover, it may not take a genius to note the money laundering activities, especially in the major hotels in this country.
These acts happen under the full knowledge of government agents. This means that these agents are not only guilty under the law stated above, but also assist these criminals achieve their selfish interests. Once the public realizes that government agents are aware of such activities and are doing nothing about it, they despair. They develop the feeling that the issue is too entrenched for them to get involved.
According to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the law stipulates consequences that one shall face when proven to be guilty of abusing officer. The law defines various offices, their duties and what the public expects from these offices. However, this law remains beautiful in paper but not in practice. Government agents have ignored policies that are supposed to guide running of this offices and nothing seems to happen. Every member of the society seems to ignore issues that are supposed to be addressed directly.
This does not mean that there is a total breakdown in the government apparatus. The government has been making efforts to curb white collar crimes. That is why there are laws and regulations put in place to help guide operations of various agents of government and members of the public.
The government, through the parliament, has come up with stringent measures to help deter cases of white collar crime in the society. Through the judiciary, the government has a track record of passing appropriate judgment against those proven to be engaged in the white collar crime. The executive has various agents such as the police and anticorruption commissions to help curb this crime. These agents are on record to have made arrests on various arrests on officers and members of the public who have been engaged on criminal activities. This is a sign that the government has goodwill to fight.
The UK Bribery Act 2010, which was amended in 2011, has a comprehensive explanation to what the country considers bribery. The Act also spells out all the possible consequences when one is found engaging in the crime, either as the recipient or the giver of the crime. The police service of this country has been described to be one of the best in the world (Marks 2012, p. 32). The police reforms that have been experienced for the last ten years have changed these officers into people who are efficient and very effective in combating white collar crime. Given these developments in various arms of the government, the United Kingdom has been considered as one of the countries that have the best machineries to combat white collar crime. This is a credit to the government.
A typical example of a fight against fraud is a recent case that involved Kweku Adoboli who was charged in engaging in trade that led to the biggest loss in the banking history. Adoboli’s crime was purely caused by the need for wealth and other self benefits. Adoboli was working with UBS Equity in the trading division. He was the trade support analyst at the bank’s branches in London (Frame 2013, p. 97).
He was the architect of a fraud case that saw the Swiss bank lose about £ 2 billion in fraudulent trade. The case which was presided over by Mr. Justice Keith of Southwark Crown Court on 20 November, 2012 found Kweku Adoboli had actually committed fraud. Justice Keith held that Kweku Adoboli was guilty as charged. The judge held that he knew the risks that the bank would be put through the trade but willingly took the risk beyond his limits. The judge held that if Adoboli’s action would have been left unchecked, the bank would have lost over £ 7 billion, and this would have lead to its closure. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. Clearly affirming the need to fight white collar crime, the judge said that such acts of greed should not be tolerated in this society.
Another case that was tried and verdict given was that involving Mukhtar Ably Azov. The case, which took place in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in The High Court of Justice Commercial Division on 15 July 2011, was presided over by Justice Teare. He was charged of embezzling billions of dollars from BTA Bank for the period between 2005 and 2009 (Fletcher & Herrmann 2012, p. 119).
The high court Judge, Justice Teare withheld that Mr. Mukhtar Ably Azov had defrauded the above named applicants and other institutions in this country on different dates. The high court judge ordered his property worth 4 billion starling pound be put under receivership. This was a strong move by the judiciary to fight white collar crime. This was an indication that the judiciary is working closely with the police service in the fight against white collar crime in this country.
The legal system in the United States is a step ahead of that in the United Kingdom. According to Okumu (2011, p. 89), the United States has strict legal policies that curb any form of corruption and money laundering within its borders irrespective of the nationality of the individual committing the crime. This scholar compares the crime committed by Gilbert Deya and Aaron Mwau. Gilbert Deya was charged of money laundering in the United Kingdom, and a London court sent him to three years in jail. On the other hand, Aaron Mwau was charged of the same crime in the United States, and his assets worth $ 54 million was frozen by the government, besides the seven years imprisonment. This is a clear indication that the US has a tighter legal system against white collar crime.
The society also takes some credit on the fight against white collar crimes in this society. Most of the successful arrests made on people practicing white collar crime have been due to the intelligence by the public. The prosecutions have also depended on the public to give evidence that can help send these criminals to prison. These selfless moves have helped elevate the society and reduce cases of crime.
However, the question that still needs to be answered is whether or not enough has been done to curb crime. The public has done its best, but more still remains to be done. The society should embrace a unified approach to fighting crime. There should be goodwill by the public to fight all forms of white collar crime in totality. A case where one fights one type of white collar crime but engages in another beats the very essence of the fight. The public should appreciate the fact that once one engages in a white collar crime, either by supporting, being the participant, or witnessing but not reporting, because the case does not affect one directly, the war against this vice shall be lost. Another individual will also witness or engage in other criminal cases that will affect the individual directly. This should be a war by everyone against the crime.
Need for New Legislation on White Collar Crime
The government should enact stronger legislations to help curb white collar crime within the society. According to Frame (2013, p. 103), giving a seven-year-term jail imprisonment (as that which was given to Adoboli) to a criminal who almost brought a large bank to its keens is being lenient.
This scholar holds that the jail term should be longer for criminals found guilty of this crime. These sentiments are shared by Marks (2012, p. 115) who says that the existing laws against white collar crime are too lenient and therefore, may not act as deterrent against this crime. This scholar, in reference to assert freezing case against Ably Azov, says that freezing part of the asset and leaving the criminal to lead a comfortable life beats the logics of the fight against this crime. This scholar supports the need to enact stricter laws that would discourage this vice in the society.
The society has been fighting white collar crime using various means. According to the discussion above, war against white collar crime has received success in various fronts. The society has managed to reduce some of these criminal cases to minimal levels. However, it is important to note that more needs to be done in order to make this war a success. There are some compromises made by both the public and government agencies which have seen white collar crime thrive in the society.
These cases have seen this vice thrive in some sector in the country. Trying to respond to the research question, this research shows that enough has not been done by people in authority to fight crime. This research has succeeded in demonstrating the fact that the society has a lot to do in the fight against white collar crime. The legal system should be adjusted in order to consider white collar crime as one of the most serious crimes in the country.
Some scholars have argued that the law that has been set to fight white collar crime is not sufficient. These scholars argue that the law is still lenient on people who are confirmed to be guilty of white collar crime. The best approach should be to enact stronger legislation that would spell steeper punishment for the criminals. The law should also discourage any compromise by relevant authorities when fighting this crime. The officers found to compromise the law in this fight should also face defined legal consequences. This way, the fight against white collar crime will bear the expected fruits, and such cases would be rare in the society.
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