Retail Ireland, the national representative body for the entire retail sector, has published a report called ‘Tackling the Black Market and Retail Crime’. According to the report, prepared by EPS Consulting, shoplifting, fuel smuggling, the sale of smuggled cigarettes and other crimes affecting retailers cost the Exchequer up to €861 million each year.
The report set out a number of statistics, most notably:
- Almost 25% of the Irish cigarette market is sourced from the black market, with 109 million illegal cigarettes, with a retail value of €45.9 million, being seized in 2011
- 770,000 individuals in Ireland have downloaded music/films illegally; and
- Ireland ranks 11th out of 22 countries in Europe for shoplifting, with employee theft accounting for one-third, the highest rate in Europe
According to Frank Gleeson, Chairman of Retail Ireland, ‘the scale of the lost revenue means it makes economic sense to invest more in tackling the problem’. Mr Gleeson also believes that ‘it is vital that an adequate policy response, backed by the necessary resources, is put in place to bring the criminals to justice and to protect consumers’.
Among the recommendations made to tackle this ‘epidemic’ is that garda resources be redeployed from other areas, such as routine road traffic policing, into enforcement activities relating to black market and retail crime. The report also recommends that current and future State payments and benefits to persons found guilty of such crimes be reduced according to the value of the loss to the Exchequer of the goods smuggled, counterfeited or stolen, and that rewards should be given to whistleblowers who reveal illegal practices.
Contributed by Brian McElligott