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The Importance of Reporting Crime in a timely manner

Time to Gang-up on Maritime Crime 
August 31st 2017
Time to Gang-up on Maritime Crime
Jon Davies, 
CSO Practice Manager

It is evident that some ship owners are not reporting crime to authorities, whether this is because of fears that reports to authorities cause delays to the departure of vessels (for example, sailing delay due to authority prolonged investigation – they can…), attract potentially unfavourable media attention upon victim vessels or companies (they unfortunately can…), or attract the concerns of cargo owners (sometimes...) and even endanger seafarers who are kidnapped (West Africa and Sulu Sea). Similarly, being the victim of crime can also be considered a systemic failure in security that may draw attention to the “weakness” in systemic application of procedures by ship owners and crew, thereby hazarding their use by customers. The reasons or apparent failure to report are legion and so far, failing to report crime is seemingly not prosecuted, nor penalised by Flag States nor Port State – so far. There sadly seems little prospect of change and improvement is not yet apparent except in hostage-taking in Nigeria. No crime is victimless and yet it is also of concern that the vessel owner is effectively penalised for being a victim of crime.

However, the benefit of reporting (all) crime in a timely manner helps all and the urgent spread of information is startlingly apparent. Obviously, alarms are raised at sea over VHF and SSAS; also, obviously this provides a limitation in VHF range and SSAS alarms are not visible to other vessels. Flag states only advise their flagged vessels and alongside, port states do not routinely advertise their criminal challenges. Both those have timeliness issues.

CSO Alliance provides the opportunity to report any crime in port or at sea with anonymity and this information is circulated through the website to all Alliance members. The CSO Alliance does not replace normal reporting channels, but offers the prospect of benefitting all by getting the word out there to all members. Copying (CC-ing) the Alliance on your crime incident mail traffic is a certain way of getting the message to those that would benefit from warning and facilitating appropriate counter-measures!

The human cost of maritime crime is not only financial and it is an unfortunate challenge worldwide. From bitter experience it personally impacts seafarers, most obviously in the case of hijacking and hostage- taking, but crime is evident worldwide and it shapes to the opportunity. Ultimately, all ship owners pay for crime (in the case of both the human cost and CSO-cost in time, so it is to the benefit of all to report it) and thereby motivate the authorities to counter crime. By proliferating crime information to CSOs helps all to reduce crime for all for effectively no cost. Maritime crime, piracy at sea or even theft alongside raises the cost of trading for all, through insurance costs, port charges, and counter-crime measures. Countering crime is neither cheap, nor straightforward, but this initiative could both reduce crime and protect seafarers, company property and potentially, reputation.