A crisis of enforcement: the decriminalisation of death and injury at work

Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David (2008). A crisis of enforcement: the decriminalisation of death and injury at work. Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, King's College London, London.

URL: http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/opus685/crisisen...


Fatalities and injuries caused through work are far more prevalent than the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) currently reports. For example, they fi nd that more than 80 per cent of officially recorded work-related fatalities are fi ltered out from the HSE’s headline figure and remain buried in other categories in the official data. The official data made available by HSE reporting methodology may thus only serve to mask the true quantity and quality of harm that takes place during work processes. After re-assessing the scale of the harms caused, Tombs and Whyte conclude that being a victim of a work-related fatality or injury is far more likely than experiencing conventionally defi ned and measured violence and homicide. While such siphoning seems an inevitable and inherent characteristic of legal and regulatory systems, this briefi ng suggests that it may be only through the acknowledgement of ‘safety crime’ by agencies such as the Home Office, the police, the courts and the Scottish Government that safety crimes can be recast as ‘real’ crime and thus dealt with more appropriately. The authors’ conclusion, that most safety crimes are either undetected or filtered out from offi cial channels of resolution, begs the question whether burdens have been displaced to employees and members of the public.

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