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Police 'overlooking crimes against business'

Thanks to a rising tide of shoplifting, fraud, vandalism and even cyber attacks, British businesses are losing more and more of their profits to criminal activity.


The 2015 British Retail Consortium (BRC) Crime Survey, for example, found that high street firms were left out of pocket to the tune of £603 million as a result of burglaries, deliberate damage to inventory and property, and other offences last year - an increase of 18 per cent on 2013.

Now, new research from the Federation of Small Business (FSB) - published on Thursday (May 7th) - has suggested that police inaction is part of the problem.

The industry body carried out a survey of member firms across Greater Manchester and north Cheshire, finding that almost two in three were of the opinion that crimes against business are not getting enough attention from police.

Asked whether they thought this type of offence was "often overlooked" by their local force, some 64 per cent said yes. A further one in five (20 per cent) told FSB pollsters they were unsure, so only 16 per cent of respondents were fully convinced that police are allocating sufficient resources to business crime.

The FSB also asked members whether or not officers "responded appropriately and in a timely fashion" to reports of criminal activity affecting their firms' assets. Two in five (40 per cent) said yes, a quarter (25 per cent) said "sometimes" and more than a third (35 per cent) said no.

Finally, the survey quizzed respondents on their own experiences of crime. Just under half (47 per cent) of members had been the victim of one or more offence within the past 24 months, of whom 38 per cent had been affected between one and three times, three per cent between four and five times, and five per cent six times or more. Almost one in three (29 per cent) admitted to never reporting crimes to the police.

"The perception of many small business owners is the police too often overlook crimes against small firms," commented Simon Edmondson, FSB regional chair for Manchester and north Cheshire.

"It could well explain why some businesses simply don't report crimes to the police, so, rightly or wrongly, this perception needs to be addressed."

The figures might also point to an appetite for greater preventative measures to stem business crime, with forces alone unable to shut down most offences before they happen.

Conversely, the provision of better physical security - including manned guarding - can help businesses to deter and impede would-be burglars and vandals before their actions affect the bottom line.

Crimes against business also sometimes include violence and abuse against staff, with the earlier BRC survey having recorded 32 such altercations per 1,000 employees in 2014. The presence of trained security personnel is the best possible defence against this type of offence.

"Although there remains at times a lack of confidence amongst retailers about the service they receive from police and the criminal justice system, businesses are keen to work with partners to reduce retail crime,"  wrote Helen Dickinson, the organisation's director general, in her introduction to the report.

"Closer partnership work ... achieves more effective, efficient results, the burden on local employers and their workforce is reduced, and our whole community becomes safer."


Posted by Andrew Miller

Image courtesy of Thinkstock

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