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We’re determined to make crime a business of the past

October 30, 2013
CRIME-FIGHTING LAUNCH: Buzzards Valley Winery setting with Tamworth BNI chapter director Simon King, chief executive of  Pickerings Solicitors

CRIME-FIGHTING LAUNCH: Buzzards Valley Winery setting with Tamworth BNI chapter director Simon King, chief executive of Pickerings Solicitors

EMBATTLED bosses in Staffordshire can expect the “white heat of  technology” to be turned up in the fight to stop crime forcing companies to go under.

Business owners and directors – only just starting to feel the first tentative signs of recovery from long-term economic hardship – can look forward to “more relief” from a new pilot scheme being rolled out by the county’s ground-breaking Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

As the deputy police and crime commissioner industry leaders from the Tamworth BNI chapter – representing small and medium-sized enterprises across the region – were the first to learn from me about the launch of the Business Crime Commission.

And company executives will be party to a new deal of “computer innovation, communication and customer consideration” in the “brave new world” of an unfettered county police force.

Fraud alone costs companies in this country £9.1 billion. Businesses are going under as a result of crime.

And yet only 10 per cent of business crime is ever reported to the police – which in part is certainly due to a lack of confidence that anything will be done about it.

Who supports them when they going through this trauma? Businesses have different needs to individuals who, in the main, are treated well by the authorities in the aftermath of a crime.

With the introduction of our pilot scheme, we are determined that firms’ owners and directors should be better served when they find themselves victims of business crime.

Some 276,000 crimes have cost county businesses nearly £433 million in theft, damage and consequential loss at a rate of more than £7,000 an hour, latest statistics, gathered over a seven-year period, reveal.

At the Buzzards Valley Winery, I went on to illustrate the problem for businesses with a series of case studies.

I described a scenario of a firm’s computer being hacked, online money stolen and the booking system ransacked.

We must start by liaising in a better way with firms who find themselves criminalised,

Remember crime is expensive to, and for, the business community – and it’s our duty to look after the economy when it is under attack.

A spate of side curtain thefts from lorries could be prevented for example – with fresh intelligence and hi tech-delivered information – helping haulage contractors through an innovative alert system. 

Businesses deserve a customer service level aligned with the expectations of business and reporting methods that make sure call centres handle inquiries effectively and efficiently,

Almost a year since the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner came into being through the ballot box, Staffordshire’s ‘new arm of the law’ has ushered in a new era of accountability and transparency to the electorate – brushing aside convention to bring in a radical revolution in administrative terms.

Innovative schemes already in place in Staffordshire include the county’s police force being released from the ‘tick box culture’ – no longer having stifling targets to meet while every single police vehicle, except those on covert operations, are now marked.

Technology is playing a big hand in seeing all frontline county police officers receiving state-of-the art bodycams in a new scheme funded by the OPCC to help “improve evidence gathering and give better protection”.

Thanks to the Office of the PCC’s Cars Behind Bars policy, police in Staffordshire now target uninsured vehciles using automatic number plate recognition technology. In the last six months alone more than 1,000 illegally-driven vehicles have been seized and crushed.

And the number of uninsured cars in the county has fallen by the same number in one month alone under the zero tolerance crackdown.

The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis’ manifesto pledge to introduce a Young Police Cadets Service has “caught the imagination of the country,”

We are thrilled with our cadets and Home Secretary Teresa May was keen to hear of their progress in a recent visit,

The scheme is geared for 13 to 17 year olds with the object of having 30 young people represented in every town in Staffordshire – with units already set up in Stafford and Cannock and one in Stoke North earmarked for December.

The object is to furnish the nation with young people of good social behaviour – equipped with ‘soft skills’ and helped by taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme – who will make good citizens of the future. But we must emphasise it is not a recruiting strategy for tomorrow’s police force.

Each unit costs around £15,000 to kit out and run and without taking money from frontline police services – some £45,000 has already been raised through the OPCC’s charitable Staffordshire Corporate Social Responsibility Fund.

We’re on target to deliver 180 young police cadets by the end of 2014, I’m happy to do presentations to any business in order to raise monies for the Corporate Social Responsibility Fund. I’ll take anything from £100 to £10,000.

The Office is changing national protocol in its plans to recruit 200 special constables for the county – with a new criteria to find “people who are first and foremost passionate about their local communities.”

They might not tick all the other entry requirement boxes but we want local people who care about their own community.

I answered questions on the move to shut police stations in certain parts of the county.

We make no apology for closing down these buildings, For example in Lichfield’s case, the station is next to the district council  offices. Why is there a need to have two public buildings side by side.

Surely it makes sense to share public offices. It’s not about buildings, it’s about people. Police should not be in police stations but out on the beat – fighting crime, interacting with communities.

Another ground-breaking project is being implemented to help change perceptions and realities for crime victims and their witnesses.

It will mean a massive overhaul of the system’s infrastructure which currently sees up to 59 separate agencies being involved with supporting victims of crime.

The proposed ‘Gateway To Haven’ will cut the 40 back offices to one – putting the victim first in every scenario through a single path where one agency, and not the police, take on the responsibility of providing a clearly mapped out route to support.

Victims need a first port-of-call organisation to provide comfort, restore confidence and guarantee total protection before, during and after any potential litigation process.

The Victims’ Charter is one of four key priorities in the new OPCC’s Safer, Fairer, United Communities strategy. The plan went out to public consultation, producing the biggest response in the county’s history – with 6,400 replies.

Now the strategy will be led by its four governing priorities of early intervention; supporting crime victims and their witnesses; managing offenders; and restoring public confidence.

There was a need for transparency in an organisation that has had no reform for 35 years before the arrival of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Nobody understood what we were all about. Now they can see we are bringing democracy into modern policing,

We’ve freed the police from the shackles of ticking boxes, released 3,000 more policing hours per week and are proving we can do more for less,

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