By Ronald F. Worst – Criminologist (Security Expert & Fraud Examiner)
Generally speaking, the dictionary defines it as a form of self-regulation in which you monitor your own adherence to legal, ethical, or safety standards instead of utilizing a government entity to monitor and enforce those standards. As you read this definition, what stands out as the single most important approach in reducing our society’s crime rate? My answer would be the proactive deterrent approach. Why? Because the skills of safety and security professionals requires three disciplines: 1) people’s safety 2) security of assets, and 3) protecting people’s money, thus your safety and security skills in addition to your financial fraud prevention knowledge are the key disciplines in the fight to reduce our society’s crime rate.
Now that you have basic knowledge of the phrase “Self-Policing” let’s add another discipline to the mix to continue to create a stronger proactive deterrent approach to criminal events: Behavioral Psychology! In general, there are two basic common bonds that the traditional criminal thinks about the most: 1) criminals do not want to be seen and/or identified and 2) criminals do not want to attract people’s attention to them while they are committing their criminal behavior. Infusing behavioral psychology techniques into your self-policing standard on your premises creates a majority approach in deterring crimes thus you’re contributing in reducing our society’s crime rate.
There are two types of deterrence’s that needs to be identified to allow behavioral psychology techniques to work within your self-policing proactive approach: 1) Visible deterrences, and 2) Physical deterrences. The key is to identify and apply these two types of deterrences in ways that the potential criminal second guesses his or her criminal behavior. For example: Posted signs that utilize creative words that force the potential criminal to think…… “Attention! This area is Continuously under Video Surveillance” or “Trespass at your own Risk!” In these two examples the words, Attention and Risk, are the creative words that attract people’s attention when they read those signs. The goal is to establish a proactive approach utilizing behavioral psychology to your advantage to deter criminal behavior. Another example relating to financial fraud deterrence is to verbally announce or draft memos stating a financial fraud audit will be conducted on a certain date and time. Now you have the option of either not taking action on the audit or conducting the audit. Another way is by conducting audits without any form of an announcement. The key is to create a psychological game of cat and mouse by forcing the potential criminal to second guess their actions on committing a financial crime upon your premises.