Million reasons why it matters to beat business crime
ONE million businesses in the West Midlands have suffered a seven-year hitch – being victims of crime.
Computers being hacked, online money stolen, booking systems ransacked, commercial burglary, shoplifting, theft and criminal damage has left a £1.5billion hole in company coffers over the same period.
Police crime data between January 2002 and September 2009 provided by police forces in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands reveal criminals from other parts of the UK love to knock on the region’s door – and causing personal pain by their ill-gotten gains with unwarranted acts of violence, theft and damage.
And worryingly two out of five of businesses nationally don’t bother to report crime to police while fraud racks up a £21billion bill to firms across the UK.
Now a new strategy to beat business crime has taken centre stage at a regional conference.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Staffordshire launched the Business Crime Matters strategy – spearheaded by myself as a former president of Southern Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce.
As the deputy police and crime commissioner I was invited to speak about the strategy at Crimestoppers’ Midlands regional conference at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, which brought together law enforcement agencies, commercial organisations, Neighbourhood Watch and others to look at ways of making communities safer.
I told the event that the total price tag of burglary, shoplifting, robbery, criminal damage, theft and other offences against businesses in Staffordshire alone is estimated at around £7,300 per hour with a £64million yearly cost to businesses.
Sadly, business people have lost full confidence in the police because of the way crime in the high street, and on trading estates, is now perceived. Faith must be restored.
Businesses are the lifeblood of local communities. But times are tough for small businesses and being a victim of robbery, theft, vandalism or online fraud can be enough to drive them into the ground.
It was fantastic to be able to talk at the conference about the exciting plans we have for a new approach that treats business crime seriously so that victims are not forgotten.
It’s about improving support for business owners, making sure they get the best possible service and improving their confidence which will in turn help increase economic growth and job creation in Staffordshire.
Mark Hallas, chief executive for Crimestoppers, said: “Enabling law enforcement agencies, Neighbourhood Watch and commercial organisations to work together with members of the public is critical in the fight against crime.
“We believe that this conference has been essential in highlighting the issues that all of these bodies face and should facilitate better working relationships in the future.
“It’s all about stronger and more effective partnerships.”
In Staffordshire businesses are being told they can expect the “white heat of technology” to be turned up in the fight to stop crime forcing companies going under.
Company executives will be party to a new deal of “communication, customer consideration and computer innovation” in the “brave new world” of an unfettered county police force.
Crime statistics underestimate the true extent of crime and the British Crime Survey gives information from domestic victims but does not include commercial victims.
We’re determined in Staffordshire that businesses who are victims of crime will not be forgotten. Our new approach treats business crime more seriously and company owners get the support they need.
It’s about giving businesses tailored, real-time crime prevention advice to reduce the chance of them becoming victims.
There is a definite argument that a single, national definition for crimes against business is needed to ensure that such crimes are registered as such and that businesses are recorded as victims.
This type of data collection would allow a fuller data picture to emerge and allow the police to set appropriate local business crime strategies for its reduction.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has trumpeted the promise of a manufacturing revival in Britain which would only come from firms in the Midlands.
I believe so much of what is great about Britain and its future is inextricably linked with Midlands business.
Anything that impacts on businesses has a negative effect on the economy and a direct knock-on to suppliers and buyers of those businesses.
Remember NO business. NO economy. It’s not just Midlands business that would close down – the nation faces going to the wall.